Tony Stewart may still face charges for hitting and killing a fellow driver, Kevin Ward Jr., after Kevin got out of his car in the middle of the race. Tony has started racing again despite the incident, which was caught on film to the horror of NASCAR fans everywhere. Most of the evidence indicates an accident, but Stewart may still face charges after the grand jury reviews a second tape, which has so far remained mysterious, and official testimony from a fellow driver.
The incident happened in Canandaigua Motorsports Park on August 9th during the Empire Super Sprints race. Initial reports showed no evidence of criminality, but the official in charge of the investigation, Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero, said the case was still open. The case continues to follow Tony Stewart both emotionally and legally. After the tragedy, Tony explained why he wasn’t racing in Watkins Glen, saying,
“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 at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Since that time, Tony Stewart has started racing again, but that might change depending on the ruling of the grand jury.
At the end of last month, Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff Philip Povero confirmed that his investigation did not turn up any evidence that would indict Mr. Stewart. However, Tony may still have something to worry about. Since the official investigation, sources sent a second tape directly to the grand jury. It’s not clear what perspective that tape brings to light, but it might be enough to open a criminal case against Stewart.
For his part, Tony Stewart has remained cooperative with all the investigations, including the grand jury review, although he has remained silent about the specifics of the case with the media. Fellow drivers have also defended the Tony.
Penske Racing driver Brad Keselowski said about the release of the second tape,
“The only concern I have is that it sounds like there’s a second tape that they haven’t released and I don’t understand why, beyond that, it kind of feels a little bit like a cop-out that they sent it to the grand jury, but I think everybody is wishing Tony the best and supporting him, and that’s probably the most important thing.”
Another racer, Chuck Hebing, has testified to the jury about what he saw on the day of the race.
If the grand jury does file criminal charges, the most likely charge will be criminal negligence. That still seems unlikely given the sheriff investigation and the enormous support Tony Stewart has received since the incident.
[Image Credit: Kim Phillips/Flickr]