Let’s just get the facts out there before anyone gets confused. On August 9, 2014, a guy racing under the influence of marijuana at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York got in a wreck battling for position against one of the best drivers in the world. The result brought about a tragic turn when the young hothead lost his temper, ran onto the racetrack to confront the other driver, got hit by the racecar and died.
The story I’m referring to involves the deceased driver Kevin Ward Jr., whose autopsy revealed drugs in his system at the time of his death. The other driver involved was three-time Sprint Cup Series Champion, Tony Stewart, who had gone to the rural dirt track to mix it up with the locals and have fun.
Ward’s family is now seeking an undisclosed amount of money, claiming Stewart ended their son’s “successful” racing career.
First, if the Ward family believes their son was going to be the next Stewart, they are misguided, even if he was Rookie of the Year in the Empire Super Sprints four years before. Second, it is sad Ward made such a stupid, life-ending decision – as a trophy, a check or even bragging rights for besting one of motorsport’s top drivers isn’t worth your life. Perhaps, had he not been under the influence of a mind-altering drug, Ward wouldn’t have made the decision he did.
Not surprising, however, the Ward family dug in and excoriated Stewart in the press, making it clear they were going after him and his money. They didn’t care if their loved one exited his racecar during the event, with cars still circulating the track to confront Stewart – in fact they originally bragged about it in a letter to the media. They also ignored the facts revealed in the autopsy.
The family claims Ward did nothing wrong. Essentially, he was just an innocent bystander run down by Stewart, who in their words, “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.”
What is being missed here, is that a grand jury failed to conclude that Stewart did anything wrong. It exonerated Stewart and declined to return an indictment on any of the counts put before them by the local district attorney. Ward’s death was a tragic accident, not a criminal act. Case closed.
Well… the criminal case was closed. But this week, on the one-year anniversary of Ward’s death and as the Sprint Cup Series descended on Watkins Glen, N.Y., the Ward family lived up to its promises to go after Stewart.
Knowing the media would be covering Stewart’s return to the region for the first time since Ward ran in front of his racecar a year before, the Ward’s Houston-based attorney, Mark Lanier, made public the lawsuit filed at 2:41 p.m. Friday, August 7, 2015. It’s doubtful the timing was a coincidence, since the case was filed 11-minutes after the Lanier Law Firm closed its doors for the weekend, so no one could obtain additional comments. The move forced the media to tell just one distorted side of the story and that was, “The personal injuries and death sustained by Ward were caused solely by the negligence and/or recklessness of the Defendant (Stewart) and without any negligence on the part of the Plaintiff Decedent (Ward) contributing thereto.”
As one commenter posted last year, it’s pretty clear to see the Ward family is looking for a little “Jackpot Justice,” especially since they fail to acknowledge several crucial facts. Maybe ignoring the obvious, like his son being high on dope, is how Ward’s father can put his blinders on and try to convince the world, “The focus should be on the actions of Mr. Stewart and not my son.”
It’s truly sad this family can’t come to grips with reality and admit Kevin Ward Jr. would, most likely, be alive today had he not made a series of poor choices that led to his senseless death.