Parents of Kevin Ward Jr. discuss the incident that cost their son’s life
One week after filing a wrongful death suit against NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, the parents of Kevin Ward Jr. appeared on "Good Morning America" Friday to talk about the incident that claimed their son’s life.
Ward, 20, died Aug. 9, 2014 in a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Upstate New York. After crashing while racing next to Stewart, Ward got out of his car and ran towards Stewart’s car, where he was struck and killed.
"I wish he wouldn’t have gotten out of the car, more than anybody," said Ward’s mother, Pam. "But I also acknowledge the fact that if Tony would have stayed low on the track and not gunned his engine and headed for my son, my son would still be here."
Stewart’s spokesman Mike Arning said he had no comment on the Wards’ comments.
"We want justice for our son," said Pam Ward. "That’s what we want. … I want him (Stewart) accountable. The civil suit is the only action we have left."
After the crash, a 23-person grand jury in Ontario County (New York) determined that there was not enough evidence to merit criminal charges against Stewart.
"Their job was to determine whether or not, based on all the evidence they heard, all the testimony they heard, whether there was reasonable cause to believe that Tony Stewart had committed a crime or not," said Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo. "Obviously their vote was that they did not reach that finding."
Additionally, Tantillo said Ward was under the influence of marijuana on the night of the crash.
"There is toxicology evidence in the case relating to Kevin Ward that actually indicated that at the time of operation, he was under the influence of marijuana," said Tantillo. "… The levels that were determined were enough to impair judgment."
Last week, Tantillo reiterated that statement, telling the Rochester, New York, Democrat & Chronicle, "The metabolites of the marijuana that were found in his (Ward’s) system indicated that he had been smoking marijuana probably within a couple hours of the race but at the outside within five hours of the race. It was a significant factor, no question about it."