After Tony Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. in a sprint car race last weekend, the 43-year old was not charged and taken into custody by police pending an investigation into the matter. Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, may not be off the hook entirely, as legal experts believe he could still be charged with manslaughter or second-degree murder.
A first-degree murder charge for Stewart is almost entirely out of the question, unless Stewart admitted he hit Ward with criminal intent. Autoblog says the court could still hand him down a second-degree murder charge if they find he acted in a way which displayed “depraved indifference to human life” or first-degree manslaughter if he sped up to try and intimidate Ward and hit him by accident.
It’s hard to point fingers before the Ontario County Sheriff’s department has completed their investigation into the matter. The track was poorly lit and Ward was wearing a black racing suit when he approached Stewart’s car. There is also a lack of video evidence, with only one video of the incident surfacing online.
If Stewart doesn’t face criminal prosecution, it is still very likely he will face a civil suit from Ward’s family, Autoblog says. Stewart pulled out of last week’s Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen following the accident and announced yesterday he would not be racing at Michigan International Speedway this weekend either. We’ll keep you updated on the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward situation as the story continues to develop.