NASCAR driver Tony Stewart hits and kills fellow driver

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart hit and killed another driver who was walking on a track during a dirt-track race in upstate New York, authorities said early Sunday.

Kevin Ward Jr., 20, died from injuries suffered in the incident, which occurred Saturday night at the Empire Super Sprints series event at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

The track is about a two-hour drive from Watkins Glen International race track, where Stewart had been scheduled to race in a NASCAR event Sunday.

“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.,” Stewart said Sunday, according to a written statement tweeted by NASCAR. “It’s a very emotional time for all involved. … My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Stewart’s team director, Greg Zipadelli, said Sunday morning the driver has decided not to drive in the event.

“Our hearts go out to Kevin’s family,” Zipadelli said. “This is a very tough, very emotional time for everybody — his family, our family at Stewart-Haas Racing.”

On Saturday night, Ward’s sprint car hit the outside wall during lap 14 of a 25-lap race, Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero said.

A video of the incident shows two cars coming out of a turn with Stewart’s No. 14 car sliding up the track toward Ward’s No. 13 car. The two cars get close and appear to make contact before Ward’s car hits the wall and spins out. Another car narrowly avoids hitting the 13 car as its sits on the track facing the wrong direction.

Ward gets out of his crashed car, walking on the track toward the race cars, which had slowed for a yellow flag. Ward points a finger and appears to be yelling. One car swerves to avoid Ward on the half-mile dirt track.

Stewart’s car passes close to Ward, and it appears that its right rear tire hits him.

An ambulance took Ward to a hospital, but he died before it arrived, Povero told reporters.

“Stewart has fully cooperated” with an investigation, Povero said. “He acknowledges the collision with the driver.”

Povero said it appeared to be an on-track incident.

“But I want to make it very clear, there are no criminal charges pending at this time,” he said.

At an afternoon news conference, Povero said investigators had gone to Watkins Glen and hoped to speak with Stewart again.

Ward, from Port Leyden, New York, was in his fifth season in the Empire Super Sprints series. He began racing when he was 4, running go-kart events.

Stewart’s spokesman said they are trying to sort out the details.

“A tragic accident took place last night during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating,” Mike Arning said. “Tony was unhurt, but a fellow competitor lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

A competitor, which runs the car that swerved around Ward, expressed sympathy.

“Our deepest condolences go to the entire Ward Family. We are one huge ESS family, you will be truly missed bud! #RIP13,” Hebing Racing tweeted.

Stewart is a three-time champion in NASCAR’s top division and also won a sprint car championship in 1995.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr.,” NASCAR said in a written statement Sunday. “We support Tony Stewart’s decision to miss today’s race, and we will continue to respect the process and timeline of the local authorities and will continue to monitor this situation moving forward.”

Regan Smith will replace Stewart on Sunday, Zipadelli said.

Stewart also owns a dirt race track in New Weston, Ohio, and has frequently raced sprint cars during the NASCAR season. He broke a leg last year in a crash that ended his racing season. He has raced the full NASCAR season this year, but only returned to sprint cars in July.

 

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

A video of the incident was uploaded to YouTube. Warning: The video is graphic.

 

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19 comments

  • Richard Fukishima

    The real culprit here are the sports media, ESPN in particular, who highlight and trumpet the in-your-face confrontations on their regular programming. Ward, a local race track driver, saw a chance to make a national name for himself by challenging a well known NASCAR driver and having this replayed over and over on television. Ward’s behavior was uncalled for and has not only put a black mark on Stewart’s career but also could have caused injury to other racers and track employees. We may never know Stewart’s true motive in this incident but if Ward had not made his fatal choice this would not be a discussion today. Sadly, its not just this incident but many others that occur daily for the cameras, the hard hits in football that cause concussions and other long term injuries, the baseball fights, basketball show-offs, and on and on. The camera changes behavior and the huckster’s who offer up commentary supporting these show-boaters are as responsible for Ward’s death as Ward himself.

    • Ismael

      If You truly know Tony Steward You He is a hot headed macho type driver. He thinks He is more macho than anybody else on the track. I still give him the benefit of the doubt until someone comes up with another video showing that Tony Steward did not actually turned toward the driver on the track. This young driver should not have been on the track between moving cars. He showed his inexperience and paid with his life. In other websites people commented Tony picked up speed and turned his car toward this guy. Tony is innocent until other videos show up and prove He did not turn toward this kid on the track.

  • jeremy

    1) Tony knew where the Ward wreck was on the track
    (2) Tony know that the race was then under the yellow flag.
    The clear video of the incident shows that:
    (3) Tony turned his wheels into Ward when Ward was on foot on the track and
    (3) Tony stomped on the gas at the same time although he was under the yellow flag.. thus it was intentional striking of Ward which killed him.

    • Ismael

      Jeremy that’s exactly what other people said in other websites. These people were at the race. I saw the video many times and it looks like Stewart turned into this young inexperience driver.I still need more conclusive evidence before I call Steward a murderer. In any case guilty or not his sponsors will take a walk. His driving career may be over. Guilty or not He is a hot potato that no one will touch.

      • jim

        I know he killed a 20 year old kid, by a so called PRO NASCAR driver who couldn’t resist winning $500 on a step down go cart track.

  • Friday

    Albeit ward was on the track and shouldn’t have been, he exposed himself . The same driver that put him in the wall was the same driver who gassed up his motor while approaching ward, breaking the rear end of the car loose and striking him. Stewarts carelessness and ill advised move killed ward. That kid actually tried to get out of the way!

  • yhwhzson

    Manslaughter at the very least…murder if you want to get psychologically technical.
    And Stewart now drives for the Ward family (wrongful death lawsuit).

  • jim

    Tony Stewart had no reason to be at that track. He’s a Pro on the NASCAR circuit. He should not be racing against amatures when he has noting to gain, and very little money to win. What’s wrong with Tony’s brain? He should know on a yellow to slow way down. He knew where the accident was. He murdered a local kid of 20 so with his multi million dollar assets he could win $500. Stupid hillbilly I hope your sued to death and baned from NASCAR, you bully.

  • Redaco

    One thing is clear in the video the “Reving of the engine sound” was after the initial colision. If you pay attention the wheels of Tonys car spin out after he hits ward, this will sound as if the throttle has been pushed due to the wheels spinning freely. Secondly how do you know that is Tonys car reving? The video is clearly taken from a far distance as other drivers were making their way around the caution lap. For all any of us know, that sound could very well coincidentally be another driver coming around near the person filming, just after ward is struck. So for that matter I think people should just can it until we get more reliable evidence as to what happened. Fools.

    • Redaco

      I believe the person filming was too far away for the phone they were using to video it to pick up the sound of a reving motor. Like I said no way to clearly tell.


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