Writes the NY Daily News on Aug. 11: "The harsh words came shortly before authorities confirmed Kevin Ward died from blunt-force trauma after he was struck by Stewart, 43, at the upstate Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Saturday."
Ward’s aunt, Wendi Ward, swatted away condolences extended to her family from Stewart, lashing out at the hotheaded racer on Facebook, writing:
I feel numb, 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 not thinking of our family Stewart when you decided to be a d**k.
Kevin Ward Jr., 20, was killed Saturday night by NASCAR champion Tony Stewart while participating in a sprint car race in Canandaigua, New York. Upset by being wrecked by Stewart, Ward exited his spun-out vehicle while the race was under a caution flag, walked down toward the center of the track, and waited for Stewart to come around, gesturing at the veteran driver.
Stewart’s car, which appeared to throttle up shortly before Ward was hit, fishtailed while passing Ward, striking him and sucking his body under the car, flinging him against the wall. Ward was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.
YouTube video of the crash has been viewed over 5 million times.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said Stewart, who was questioned after the crash and multiple times since, will not face criminal charges at this time, as no evidence of criminal intent has been found. That said, the investigation has yet to be closed, and additional evidence and video is being gathered.
“This is an ongoing investigation, and all options remain available,” Povero said. “We’re continuing to gather and analyze every piece of evidence we can.”
Some have speculated that Stewart, known to be an aggressive driver that has been involved in multiple dustups over his career, was trying to send Ward a message by blasting right by him. Namely – Don’t ever get out of your car and confront a driver on a track.
Kevin Ward’s parents issued a more diplomatic statement to the media:
“We appreciate the prayers and support we are receiving from the community, but we need time to grieve and wrap our heads around all of this.”
Stewart was scheduled to race the following day at Watkins Glen International, but withdrew. Stewart released a statement, saying:
“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. It’s a very emotional time for all involved. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
The incident has touched off a rage of comments and controversy on social media and news outlet sites among the NASCAR community and others. Some say Stewart clearly was trying to buzz Ward in a warning gone terribly wrong. They say Stewart sped up deliberately after seeing Ward on the track. Others claim that Stewart likely never saw Ward, or if he did, he “throttled up” in order to help spin his vehicle, which has no clutch, out of Ward’s path.
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