LAKE ODESSA, Mich. (WZZM) — Police in upstate New York are not ruling out charges in the deadly crash involving NASCAR veteran Tony Stewart.
His car hit and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward during a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park Saturday. Before the deadly collision, Stewart's car squeezed Ward's car up into the outside wall coming out of turn two, causing it to spin out. Ward's vehicle had a flat tire as a result. Ward left his vehicle and was marching down the track when he was clipped by Stewart's vehicle, run over and thrown a few yards down the track.
West Michigan is home to a track that hosts races similar to the one Ward died at in New York. Mike Mouch is the owner of I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa and had a chance to watch the video.
"I think it was a racing accident that wasn't intentional," explains Mouch. "With the guy to get out of the car, the colors of the suit that blended in to the background, there wasn't much time for reaction."
At I-96 Speedway, Mouch says race track workers instruct drivers not to get out of their car, preventing incidents similar to the one that killed Ward.
Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero said his investigation continues 16 hours after a deadly crash. Deputies traveled to Watkins Glen Sunday, the site of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355, to speak with Stewart or his representatives. Povero said he has seen no evidence to date of criminal intent on Stewart's part.
Povero asked witnesses and anyone with video of the crash to contact his office at (585) 394-4560. The sheriff also wants to talk with anyone with expertise in this type of racing. Povero said authorities are waiting, among other things, on a forensic recreation of the crash and an autopsy on Ward by the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office.
Ward, who raced the No. 13 sprint car at the track, started racing go-karts in 1998 at age 4, according to kevinwardracing.com.
Stewart issued a statement Sunday afternoon about the tragedy:
"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."