Sheriff reiterates that nothing yet supports charges vs. Tony Stewart
Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff Philip C. Povero said Monday there "are no facts that exist that support" filing of criminal charges against Tony Stewart in the death of sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race Saturday night at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.
The right-rear tire of Stewart's car struck and killed the 20-year-old driver after Ward got out of his car and walked onto the track following an incident between the two during an Empire Sprint Series race at the upstate New York track Saturday night. Ward was gesturing at Stewart when he was hit.
"As we speak, at this time, there are no facts that exist that support any criminal behavior or conduct or probable cause of a criminal act in this investigation," Povero said during a 5 p.m. ET news briefing on the case. "Again, I repeat that this is an open investigation. What I have just said is not indicative that the investigation is over or conclusions have been made, but that it is open and we are continuing to gather all information."
Povero then reiterated he has not so far found anything to suggest criminal charges.
"No criminal charges have been placed against anyone and there are no facts at this point that would support probable cause of any criminal behavior," Povero said.
According to Povero, the county coroner performed an autopsy on Monday and ruled that the cause of Ward's death was massive blunt trauma.
Povero added that there is no firm timetable for the completion of the investigation. "We continue to work as expeditiously and efficiently as we can in an effort to locate and evaluate any relevant information that may exist regarding this particular investigation," he said.
Police have examined two videos of the incident and spoken with witnesses. "We continue to collect facts and information," said Povero. "The district attorney's office has been supportive and review information we have gathered relative to this crash."
Ward's funeral service will take place at the Trainor Funeral Home, 143 Schuyler Street, Boonville, NY. Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. ET, with the funeral Thursday at 11 a.m.
Stewart has withdrawn from the Aug. 16 Bob Newton Classic sprint car race at Plymouth (Indiana) Speedway and a team spokesman said Monday that Stewart has not yet decided whether he'll compete in this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.