Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart was involved in one of the more disturbing and terrifying racing events in recent memory. Th 43-year-old Stewart-Haas Racing owner hit and killed fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race Saturday night at the Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.
Ward Jr., 20, was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. During a press conference Sunday afternoon, Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff Phillip C. Povero said, “At this moment there are no facts or evidence that would support a criminal charge or criminal intent.” Povero’s office, however, is still examining videos from fans in attendance at the Empire Super Sprints race and is awaiting the results of a formal autopsy.
During the race, Stewart put Ward Jr.’s sprint car into the wall near Turn 1 of the track. With his car wrecked, Ward Jr. then hopped out while the caution, or yellow, flag was waived by officials. He then walked towards the middle of the track, and gestured towards Stewart’s oncoming vehicle, apparently trying to confront the star about the wreck. According to reports, Stewart fishtailed his car and clipped Ward Jr., dragging him under and then sending him flying some 25 feet.
As the graphic video below shows, Ward Jr. lay motionless on the track and EMS and racetrack staff were quick to treat him. Stewart was also reportedly shaken after the incident, and the race was cancelled.
Later on Sunday, Stewart at first planned to race in NASCAR’s Watkins Glen International, but then pulled out and was replaced by Regan Smith. Stewart also said in a statement, "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 Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy."
As previously noted, the video below is graphic and should only be watched at the viewer’s discretion.