An angry and griefstricken Kevin Ward Sr., father of the 20-year-old driver killed during the incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York on Saturday night, said he wants to hear about what happened from Tony Stewart himself. Yahoo Sports reported Aug. 13 that Ward is demanding to know why Stewart put his son into the wall the lap prior to his being struck by Stewart's sprint car and how come it appears that the "best damn driver by far on the track that night" was also "the only one driving out there who didn't see him [Kevin Ward Jr.]."
Kevin Ward Sr. remembers his son as a good-natured young man, a "God-gifted kid" who even slept with a smile on his face. He also remembered him as always being interested in racing. He began tinkering with motors when he was eight years old. And he believes the reason his son got out of his car was because of who caused him to lose control of his vehicle and slam into the wall during Saturday night's sprint car race.
"I think the reason he probably got out of that car is who put him into the wall," Kevin Ward Sr. told Syracuse.com in an interview. He was definitely put into the wall."
Ward also noted that his son, although wearing orange and black, had flourescent stripes on his suit that glowed under even the track's minimal lighting (an aspect of the conditions that authorities are investigating as possibly contributing to the fatality). With the caution flag out, drivers were moving their cars to the bottom of the track, slowing down. Ward noted that the other drivers saw Kevin Ward Jr.
After being spun out in the previous lap, his spring car sent into the wall, Kevin Ward Jr. had extricated himself from his vehicle and stormed down and back into oncoming traffic on the track. He was also gesturing angrily, his target apparently Tony Stewart, who was coming back around on the half-mile dirt track. But as one video of the incident shows, a car ahead of Stewart's seems to swerve to miss the walking driver. Stewart's car, which was almost directly behind the other vehicle is then seen coming up alongside Ward. Then Ward suddenly disappears from view, only to be quickly flung up the track a considerable distance. Upon impact with the track, the video shows the young man's body remains motionless.
"Apparently, Tony Stewart was the only one driving out there who didn't see him," the grieving father stated.
Kevin Ward Jr. would be declared dead on arrival at the hospital. The subsequent autopsy found the cause of death to be blunt force trauma.
Kevin Ward Sr. never saw his son hit by Stewart's vehicle. Instead, once his son had gone into the wall, he had tried to make his way to where damaged vehicles were taken, headed there to meet his son. He was stopped along the way, watched as an ambulance passed, and was shortly afterward that his son had been hit by another vehicle on the track.
Emergency workers attempted to administer CPR to the motionless Ward for 45 minutes. Unresponsive, he was taken to a nearby hospital. The family was then given the news. A daughter that did not attend the race called and told them someone had posted to Facebook that Kevin, her brother, was dead. Kevin's mother, a registered nurse, said she believed he died at the track, Kevin Ward Sr. said.
"Tony Stewart was the best damn driver by far on the track that night," he said. "Why he had to go up as high as he did and hog my son, there's no reason for it."
But Ward wants to know what happened. Although Tony Stewart was interviewed by the Ontario County Sheriff's Office, they have yet to divulge any information regarding the crash.
"The one person that knows what happened that night is possibly facing 10 years in prison. Is he going to say what he done?"
Although Kevin Ward Sr. seems to insinuate, he does not directly state that Tony Stewart killed his son. Other family members also have pointed an accusatory finger at the NASCAR driver. The young man's aunt took to Facebook, according to NewsOxy, calling Stewart a "d**k" in the process.
"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."
A fellow sprint car driver and friend of Ward's, Tyler Graves, told The Sporting News in a phone interview that he had seen the entire incident from the stands. He said it that Tony Stewart seemed to speed up as he came alongside Kevin Ward Jr. He also insisted that Stewart could see the young driver walking on the track, gesturing angrily. He said his friend was simply letting Stewart know he was angry with him for putting him into the wall, and he thinks that Stewart was also trying to send a message.
"And Tony was trying to give the message back that he wasn't happy either," Graves said. "He went over the line with it."
Graves told the Sporting News that he used to be a big fan of Stewart's -- until Saturday night.
"Tony Stewart needs to be put in prison for life," he said.
The police investigation into the Aug. 9 incident could take some time, it has been noted, but as yet the Ontario County Sheriff's Office has found no evidence to support a criminal investigation. However, the investigation remains an "open" one. Authorities are busy looking into two videos of the fatal incident from different vantage points. As several media outlets have reported, investigators have interviewed multiple witnesses, including drivers, crews, attendees, track personnel, and Tony Stewart himself. They have asked that anyone that actually witnessed the moment when Kevin Ward Jr. made contact with Tony Stewart's vehicle -- or anyone with a video of those deadly seconds -- to come forward.
Tony Stewart issued a statement the day following the tragic incident, saying, in part: "There aren't words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr." Scheduled to race in a NASCAR event at Watkins Glen the same day, he bowed out.