Tony Stewart could be facing 15 years in prison if a New York jury determines that the NASCAR driver intentionally struck Kevin Ward Jr. and intended to kill him.
Stewart struck and killed Ward in a race in August at a Canandaigua, New York, track. Stewart had bumped Ward and caused him to spin out, and afterward the 19-year-old Ward ran onto the track to confront Stewart, who struck and killed him.
Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said Tuesday that case will now go to a grand jury, which will determine whether Tony Stewart will be charged in the death of Kevin Ward Jr.
Tony Stewart released a statement Tuesday saying he would participate fully in the process.
“I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation,” he said.
Though it is not yet clear what charges the grand jury will consider, Yahoo Sports noted that Tony Stewart could be facing real prison time if indicted and convicted.
“Even with what the local sheriff has described as a “forensic video enhancement,” convincing a jury of Stewart’s intent with such high stakes seems challenging, perhaps too challenging for a district attorney to bother attempting.
However, second-degree manslaughter could come if there is a belief that Stewart’s actions were considered reckless enough to cause the death. A grand jury that doesn’t have to actually try the case may be more likely to hand down an indictment and essentially tell the prosecutor’s office to go and give it a go.
That charge alone carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.”
“This has been one of the toughest tragedies I’ve ever had to deal with, both professionally and personally. This is something that will definitely affect my life forever,” said Stewart. “This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one has to experience in their life. That being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and friends are experiencing is something that I can’t possibly imagine.”
While Tony Stewart awaits the results of the grand jury, he plans to race in this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.