NASCAR driver Tony Stewart struck and killed another driver on foot during a sprint car race on a dirt track in upstate New York on Saturday night, and people are saying some degree of road rage was a factor.
The other driver was 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. He was racing side-by-side with Stewart, when Stewart cut him off, forcing him into the wall and causing him to spin out.
Video footage shows Ward getting out of his car and walking on the live track toward the cars. As Stewart came back around, Ward tried to CONFRONT him, and Stewart’s car swerved into him.
Ward was struck and dragged several feet, before his body was thrown about 50 feet down the track. When it came to a stop, he was completely motionless. Emergency personnel rushed in immediately, but it was too late.
Some people are saying that Stewart either INTENTIONALLY hit Ward, or that he wanted to scare him by kicking up some dirt around him.
His motor revved up just before he hit him, so he may have also been trying to show him up by SPEEDING past him.
Either way, Stewart didn’t try to AVOID Ward, assuming he saw him in the first place. It was nighttime and the track was dimly lit.
The sheriff investigating the incident said there’s no evidence of “criminal intent.” He also said Stewart has been cooperating with the investigation.
Stewart backed out of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race after the accident. In a statement, he said, quote, “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. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
A racecar driver and a friend of Ward’s who was there says he doesn’t believe Stewart intentionally hit Ward, but he thinks Stewart should accept a big share of the responsibility for what happened.
“You never mean to do something like that. Kevin was pissed and he let Tony know. And Tony was trying to give the message back that he wasn’t happy either. He went over the line with it.”
Ward’s family has also released a statement, but it sounds like they don’t want to rush to judgment yet. They just said, quote, “We appreciate the prayers and support we are receiving from the community, but we need time to grieve and wrap our heads around all of this.”
Photo Credit: Getty