NASCAR & Auto Racing

Tony Stewart inquiry done, now in hands of district attorney

Kevin Ward Jr.
Kevin Ward Jr.

The investigation into a fatal incident involving a race car driven by NASCAR's Tony Stewart last month is completed, the Ontario County, N.Y., sheriff's office said Thursday.

The results have been turned over to the county district attorney's office, which "will make a statement late next week advising what action will be taken," Sheriff Philip Povero said in a statement.

Stewart's car struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. during a non-NASCAR, sprint-car race Aug. 9 at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park dirt track in upstate New York.

The two were racing side-by-side when Ward's car crashed into the fence. After coming to a stop, Ward climbed from his car, stepped on the track and appeared to be angrily gesturing at Stewart when he was struck by Stewart's car as Stewart came back around. Ward died of "massive blunt trauma," the coroner determined.

Stewart, 43, was not charged with any wrongdoing while Povero's office investigated the incident, which was captured on an amateur video that went viral on the Internet.

Povero said the completed investigation included "a forensic video enhancement recently received from the New York State Police Laboratory in Albany," but it wasn't known if that was an enhancement of the video already widely seen by the public or a different video.

Povero said neither his office nor the district attorney's office would grant media requests for interviews seeking elaboration.

Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, sat out the three Cup races after the incident before returning Aug. 31 at the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he had to pull out after hitting the wall twice, finishing 41st.

Before the Atlanta race, Stewart read a statement to the media saying he had skipped the three races "out of respect for Kevin and his family and also to cope with the accident in my own way."

Stewart also said he wanted Ward's family and friends "to know that every day I'm thinking about them and praying for them" and that their suffering was "something I can't possibly imagine."

Stewart also declined to comment on the details of the incident, citing Povero's investigation.