Tony Stewart, Kevin Ward Jr. Video: Should YouTube Ban Graphic Footage Of Racer's Death?

Tony Stewart
Some think the tragic video of Tony Stewart, 43, killing Kevin Ward Jr., 20, during a car accident should be removed from YouTube. Reuters

The graphic video of Kevin Ward Jr.’s final moments alive before NASCAR competitor Tony Stewart hit and killed him during a sprint car race late Saturday at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York still lives on YouTube. Many are disturbed the video still remains on the site and have called for the 55-second footage to be banned.

The image is clear: Ward Jr., 20,steps out of his vehicle to confront Stewart, 43, on foot after his car crashed into him. Ward walks out onto the track with his finger pointed until Stewart's car strikes him, drags his body for a moment and then flings him off to the side. A blood-curdling scream can be heard in the background as Ward’s body lies motionless on the side of the track.

So why would a video of what some are calling murder remain? YouTube’s policy about violent or graphic content excludes death. If violence is pertinent to the footage and provides “documentary or educational context” that can help the viewer, it is allowed on the site as long as viewers understand the footage will contain disturbing images.

“It’s not okay to post violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational or disrespectful,’ YouTube’s policy reads, in part. “If a video is particularly graphic or disturbing, it should be balanced with additional context and information.”

The policy focuses on gore. Though the video of Ward’s death is shocking, appalling and utterly tragic, no trace of blood are visible from the clips.

It’s not to say the clip on YouTube will remain indefinitely, but as of now it’s not going against any of the site’s policies. Still, there has been an outcry from the Twitterati to remove the footage. Some cautioned others not to view it, and wished they had never seen it in the first place. Others accused Stewart of murder after watching the incident. Some of their comments have been posted below:

Ontario County sheriff’s office is now investigating the incident. As of now Stewart does not face any charges and is fully cooperating with authorities. He originally planned to race in Watkins Glen International in Upstate New York but pulled out on Sunday after issuing an official statement about Ward's untimely death. 

"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, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at WGI. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Follow me on Twitter @mariamzzarella 

Join the Discussion