There is now a second video tape of the horrific incident that occurred between NASCAR champ Tony Stewart and 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. on the dirt track at New York's Canandaigua Motorsports Park Saturday night. Ontario County authorities now have videos from two vantage points to aid in their investigation of a confrontation on the track that led to Ward being struck and killed by Stewart's vehicle, USA Today reported Aug. 11.
The Ontario County Sheriff's Office has been reticent with details on the matter but says it is an "open investigation.
"At this time, there are no facts that exist that support any criminal behavior or conduct or any probable cause of a criminal act in this investigation," Sheriff Philip Povero said in a statement. "This is an open investigation. What I have just said is not indicative that the investigation is over or conclusions have been made, but that we are continuing to gather all information."
Ever since the tragic incident and although various opinions have been offered on the matter, there has been no conclusive evidence regarding the fatal incident that would indicate that Tony Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion, intentionally caused Kevin Ward Jr.'s death. That, however, has not stopped speculation and conjecture born of shock, grief, and anger, not to mention being founded on Tony Stewart's history of hotheaded antics in the NASCAR world, from being leveled at the driver who was at the dirt track the night before he was to race at Watkins Glen in a NASCAR event.
Many in Kevin Ward's family blame Stewart for the death of the 20-year-old. As NewsOxy reported, Ward's aunt took to Facebook to call Stewart a "d**k."
"I feel numb," she wrote, "I look into the eyes of family and see a deep hurt that should not be there, my heart has pounded out of my chest for hours, thanks for thinking of our family tony Stewart when you decided to be a d–k! My nephew was one of a kind, a true race car driver, a p–s head and a sweetie all in one, a young man who will be truly missed by many! Aunt Wendi loves you budster, forever in our hearts."
And she isn't alone. Comment sections of articles are littered with finger-pointing and blame, some noting the fact that there is the sound of an engine revving or "throttling up" in the original video at the same moment Ward disappears from view. An autopsy report issued by the Ontario County coroner Monday listed the cause of death as massive blunt force trauma. It is unclear if the trauma occurred with the impact of the car -- or a part of the car, such as a fender or a wheel -- against the young man's body or if it might have been the result of his being thrown tens of feet through the air.
As yet, there has been no word as to what the second video might have captured. But the one thing that investigators will be on the lookout for is an indication of intent. Without an indication that Stewart in some way intended to do Kevin Ward Jr. harm, it would be difficult for authorities to pursue a criminal case against the NASCAR driver. Ontario County authorities note that Tony Stewart has been cooperative with the investigation throughout. The sheriff indicated shortly after the incident Saturday evening that Stewart looked a bit shook up from what had occurred only minutes before.
Sheriff Povero and his office have not disclosed any information given them by Stewart.
And it is uncertain if Tony Stewart even saw Ward, who, after Stewart had sent him into the race track's wall on the previous lap, had leapt out of his sprint car and proceeded to storm down the track, walking as slowing cars (a caution flag had come out) drove past. Stewart was behind another vehicle as Ward stepped down the track toward himself, gesturing angrily. It is then that Ward was struck, his body going down, then being hurled through the air, landing on the track several yards away.
Police were back at the race track Monday to follow up on their preliminary investigation.
Stewart, who often races in the sprint car circuit as a hobby, canceled an appearance in an Indiana sprint car event scheduled for Saturday. He also canceled his appearance at Watkins Glen Sunday. It is uncertain when, or even if, Tony Stewart will return to racing.