The Tony Stewart story is far from over. The NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and former series Champion was cleared by the Grand Jury in New York State in the death of Kevin Ward Jr.
According to reports Ward’s family does not consider the matter closed and that Stewart should be under “scrutiny” and not their son. This could be an early signal that the family plans on pursuing a civil case against Stewart.
“Our son got out of his car during caution while the race was suspended,” Kevin Ward Sr. said in a statement. “All the other vehicles were reducing speed and not accelerating except for Stewart who intentionally tried to intimidate Kevin by accelerating and sliding his car towards him causing this tragedy. The focus should be on Mr. Stewart and not my son. This matter is not at rest and we will pursue all remedies in fairness to Kevin.”
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The scrutiny mentioned in the statement is geared towards the disclosure by the District Attorney and Grand Jury that the young driver had marijuana in his system that could have impaired his judgment according to toxicology reports.
Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo also said that videos used in the investigation showed no “aberrational driving” by Stewart. In the end the final decision by the grand jury was that Stewart was not criminally negligent in Ward’s death.
Tony Stewart has been notably quiet during the entire investigation and since the night that Ward Jr. was killed at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. He was struck by a dirt track car driven by Stewart during a race that was not related to or sanctioned by NASCAR. Following the news that the grand jury would not recommend criminal charges Stewart released a brief statement. He did not mention the toxicology report.
"I respect everything the District Attorney and Sheriff's Office did to thoroughly investigate this tragic accident," Stewart said in a statement released on Wednesday. "While the process was long and emotionally difficult, it allowed for all the facts of the accident to be identified and known. While much of the attention has been on me, it's important to remember a young man lost his life. Kevin Ward Jr.'s family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers."
It was similar in nature to the statement that Stewart released after the case was bound to the grand jury last week. In both cases Stewart is brief and to the point and quick to mention the passing of Ward and the accident.
“I respect the time and effort spent by both the Ontario County District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Office in investigating this tragic accident. I look forward to this process being completed and I will continue to provide my full cooperation,” Stewart said in the statement.
The only public statements that Stewart made were during the race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He held a brief press conference with reporters where he asked that this return to racing after a three race hiatus be treated with respect for the Ward family and for himself.
"This is a sadness and a pain I hope no one has to experience in their life," Stewart said today. "That being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and his friends are experiencing, is something I can’t possibly imagine. I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family and to cope with the accident my own way. It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted.”