Tony Stewart will race another day, as a grand jury in Ontario County, New York, determined that there is insufficient basis to charge the driver with either second degree manslaughter, or criminally negligent homocide.
Video of the impact between Stewart’s car and Kevin Ward Jr. has circulated since the incident, and proved to be a very important piece of evidence in clearing Stewart. The footage was played to the grand jury overlaid with a grid and relevant data, at a slowed rate, to “demonstrate any aberrational driving by Tony Stewart until the point of impact with Kevin Ward, at which point his vehicle veered to the right up the track as a result of the collision. Prior to that, his course was pretty straight,” according to Ontario County D.A. Michael Tantillo.
Toxicology reports on Ward’s body revealed that the struck driver had been under the influence of marijuana at the time of death, in levels allegedly high enough to impair judgment. No toxicology was performed on Stewart, but he was interviewed on the night of the incident by a drug and alcohol recognition expert, who found no cause to suspect the driver was under the influence. Despite this, the Ward family is still not satisfied that justice has been served, although it’s unclear whether they still plan to pursue Stewart, or hold some other party accountable.
Testimonies from two dozen witnesses were presented to the grand jury over two days, while the jury deliberated for less than an hour before deciding whether there was enough basis to charge Stewart. Said Michael Tantillo, “I’m sure from their deliberations and discussions that the fact that Kevin Ward was observed running basically two-thirds of the track into a hot track in the middle of other cars that still were racing played a big, big factor in their decision.”