NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart Hits And Kills Driver In Apparent Accident
Last night during a race in upstate New York, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart hit and killed another driver in an incident that seems bizarre from beginning to end:
CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. — NASCAR driver Tony Stewart struck and killed a sprint car driver who had climbed from his car and was on the track trying to confront Stewart during a race in upstate New York on Saturday night.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said his department’s investigation is not criminal and that Stewart was “fully cooperative” and appeared “very upset” over what had happened.
“He was visibly shaken by this accident,” Povero said.
A video of the crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park showed driver Kevin Ward Jr., wearing a black helmet and firesuit on a dimly lit track, walking toward Stewart’s car before being hit and hurtled 50 feet.
Povero said the 25-lap race was under caution when Ward was struck. Stewart’s car was behind another before he hit Ward.
“The first car swerved to avoid the driver,” Povero said.
Povero said the driver was pronounced dead Saturday night at a Canandaigua hospital. Stewart was unhurt.
A witness said it appeared Ward was trying to confront Stewart, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. The video showed Ward standing to the right of Stewart’s familiar No. 14 car, which seemed to kick out from the rear and hit him.
“The next thing I could see, I didn’t see (the other driver) anymore,” witness Michael Messerly said. “It just seemed like he was suddenly gone.”
Povero said the 43-year-old Stewart, a frequent competitor at local sprint car events, was questioned and released. The sheriff asked for people who recorded video of the crash to provide copies for investigators to review.
A spokesman for Stewart’s racing team called Ward’s death a “tragic accident.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends,” the spokesman said in a statement. “We’re still attempting to sort through all the details.”
Stewart’s racing team manager Greg Zipadelli said Stewart will race in NASCAR’s event Sunday at Watkins Glen, calling the race “business as usual.”
The dirt track, about 30 miles southeast of Rochester, canceled the remainder of the race and later posted a message on its Facebook page encouraging fans to “pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers, and families.”
Here’s the video of the post, be advised that it does show Stewart’s car hitting Ward, which some may find disturbing.
From the video, it seems clear to me that Ward foolishly stepped out into the middle of the track during a race to confront Stewart, likely because he blamed him for the collision that happens at the start of the video, and that Stewart simply had no chance of getting out of the way. Nonetheless, tragic.