|Kevin Ward, Jr.|
The family of Kevin Ward Jr. filed a wrongful death suit today against NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, almost exactly a year after the 20-year old driver was struck and killed by an open wheel Sprint Car driven by Stewart at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York.
The suit was filed earlier today in Lewis County (NY) Supreme Court, and comes 363 days after Ward, Jr.’s death on August 9, 2014.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages for wrongful death, reckless conduct, gross negligence and the suffering allegedly experienced by Ward between the time of the collision and his death. It claims that the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion intentionally accelerated as he rolled past Ward – who had climbed from his damaged Sprint Car and walked across the track in an apparent attempt to confront Stewart -- striking Ward with his right-rear tire.
The suit alleges that Stewart “could have easily acted reasonably and with prudence to avoid striking Ward, just as all other drivers had done as they passed Ward during the yellow caution flag. Stewart acted with disregard for Ward's life and safety by driving his vehicle in a manner that would terrorize Ward and thereafter strike, severely injure and kill Ward."
Last September, a Grand Jury in Ontario County, NY, declined to charge Stewart with any crime, saying there was no evidence to indicate criminal misconduct or negligence. Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said witness testimony and a review of multiple videotapes showed "no aberrational driving" by Stewart. In addition, Tantillo said an autopsy had revealed the presence of marijuana in Ward’s system at the time of his death.
Even before the filing, Stewart said he expected this week to be difficult.
“I'm trying to not think about it,” he said Wednesday. “Unfortunately, I have a feeling it is going to be brought up a lot this week. It doesn't help (me) continue to move forward with it.