NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Family and friends will say their final goodbyes this week to the race-car driver who was fatally struck by three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart.
Kevin Ward Jr., 20, was killed on Saturday night after he exited his spun-out vehicle and walked onto the dirt track to confront Stewart at upstate New York’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park. Stewart’s car appeared to fishtail while passing Ward, who was hit near the right rear tire and flung toward the wall.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.
Ward’s aunt lashed out at Stewart on Facebook after the accident.
“I feel numb, I look into the eyes of family and see a deep hurt that should not be there, my heart has pounded out of my chest for hours, thanks for not thinking of our family (Tony) Stewart when you decided to be a d—,” Wendi Ward wrote Sunday morning.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said Stewart was questioned after the crash and again Sunday at Watkins Glen. On Monday, he announced there was no evidence of criminal intent, though it remains an open investigation.
Some have speculated the notoriously hot-headed Stewart might have been reckless in driving past Ward.
“Is there a recorded radio interaction where he’s saying, ‘I’m gonna scare this kid’ or ‘I’m gonna do something’? That’s what you need,” attorney Joe Tacopina said Monday on WFAN radio. “Short of that, there’s no scenario where you’re going to be able to prove that he tried to scare this kid or hurt this kid or do anything.
“He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing: he’s driving a car in circles on a track, going fast.”
A wake will be held for Ward on Wednesday in Oneida County. His funeral will be Thursday morning in Lewis County, near his hometown of Port Leyden.
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