Tony Stewart says Ward crash was '100 percent an accident'
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, giving his first interview since a grand jury decided he would not be charged in the death of Kevin Ward Jr. on a dirt track in upstate New York, said the crash was "100 percent an accident."...
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, giving his first interview since a grand jury decided he would not be charged in the death of Kevin Ward Jr. on a dirt track in upstate New York, said the crash was "100 percent an accident."
"I know 100 percent in my heart and in my mind that I did not do anything wrong. This was 100 percent an accident," Stewart told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Stewart told the AP there were dark days for weeks when he couldn't get out of bed, that he didn't care about racing and he didn't want to talk to anyone.
The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will never forget when the car he was driving struck and killed the 20-year-old Ward on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.
Stewart, 43, could have been charged with second-degree manslaughter or criminal negligent homicide.
Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo also said Wednesday that a toxicology report found Ward was under the influence of marijuana the night of the accident "enough to impair judgment."
Ward had exited his car after a crash and walked toward Stewart's moving car on the track, waving his arms in an apparent attempt to confront the NASCAR veteran.
On the advice of legal counsel, Stewart did not describe what he remembers about the crash. Ward's family has said "the matter is not at rest," and Stewart may still face a civil lawsuit.
Stewart said not being able to talk about what happened has been difficult.
"It keeps me from moving forward. It just stays there, hanging over my head," Stewart told the AP while sitting on the couch in his North Carolina home.
Stewart said he can't imagine how the Ward family is feeling.
"I guess the end result is I don't blame them for anything they say," he said.
Stewart, who isn't married and has no children, said opening himself up for self-examination was a monumental task. He ended up missing three races before coming back to race at Atlanta on Aug. 31.
"You sit there and you rack your brain, you try to analyze 'Why did this happen?'" Stewart said. "I made myself miserable just trying to make sense of it ... I just couldn't function. I've never been in a position where I just couldn't function.
"You are part of something so tragic and so unthinkable, it's hard to face anybody. It was hard to wrap my arms around this, and it still is. I haven't been a part of society for more than six weeks. You are scared to be around anybody, you are embarrassed to be around anybody because of what happened.
"There hasn't been a day that's gone by that I haven't thought about it. And it will be like that all your life. You are never going to forget about it. You are never going to not see it happen all over again. It's going to be a part of me forever."