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Grand Jury: No Criminal Charges Against Stewart

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 24 2014

Tony Stewart was cleared by a grand jury on Wednesday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

A grand jury investigating the death of a young sprint car driver during a race in Ontario County, N.Y. earlier this summer, has determined there is no basis to file any criminal charges against fellow driver Tony Stewart it was announced Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, the district attorney in Ontario County said that toxicology tests conducted on the young driver after his death reveal the presence of marijuana in his body.

The incident occurred on Aug.9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. Kevin Ward Jr. was killed when he was struck by Stewart’s car during a caution during a race.

After Ward’s car was wrecked and had stopped on the track, the 20-yearold driver got out and moved on foot toward Stewart’s car, which was circling the track at caution speed. It was then that Ward was struck and killed.

The grand jury had been asked to consider charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

The following is a statement from Tony Stewart regarding the grand jury’s decision:

“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.”

While cleared of the criminal wrongdoing, Stewart still could face civil charges if Ward’s family opts to pursue those charges.

Late Wednesday afternoon, ESPN quoted Ward’s family as saying it intends to  “pursue all remedies, in fairness to Kevin.”

Stewart, also a three time champion in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, opted not to drive for three weeks following the incident as he grieved over Ward’s death.

He returned to racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day Weekend.

District Attorney Michael Tantillo said Wednesday that grand jury members where shown photos and video of the incident and that more than two dozen witnesses were interviewed.

Tantillo said Wednesday that a toxicology report on Ward revealed that he had enough marijuana in his system at the time of the accident to impair judgment.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 24 2014
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