Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart will not face criminal charges related to the August 9 of spring car driver Kevin Ward Jr., who died after Stewart struck him with his car during a dirt-track race in upstate New York.
A grand jury had convened to investigate Ward’s death and determine whether to charge Stewart with second-degree manslaughter and/or criminally negligent homicide. Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo announced at a Wednesday news conference that there was “no basis to charge Tony Stewart with any crimes.”
Tantillo also announced that toxicology tests showed the 20-year-old Kevin Ward had marijuana in his system when he got out of his car to confront Stewart on the track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in
Stewart, a NASCAR icon who spends his spare time racing at low-profile events such as the one at which Ward was killed, could still face a wrongful death lawsuit.
Stewart issued a statement shortly after the announcement. Here’s the full text, via WISH-TV.
This has been the toughest and most emotional experience of my life, and it will stay with me forever. I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received and continue to receive. I respect everything the District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office did to thoroughly investigate this tragic accident. 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.