CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. — staff report — Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America photo — The Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney’s Office has confirmed it will send all the evidence gathered during the investigation into the death of 20-year-old sprint car racer Kevin Ward Jr. at Canandaigua Motorsports Park to a grand jury.
It will be up to the members of the grand jury to decide if charges will be filed against Tony Stewart, whose sprint car struck and killed Ward during a Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints event at the half-mile dirt oval on Aug. 9.
“I respect the time and effort spent by both the Ontario County District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Office in investigating this tragic accident. I look forward to this process being completed and I will continue to provide my full cooperation,” Stewart said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
Stewart-Haas Racing officials have confirmed Stewart will race this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Stewart sat out three NSCS events following the accident before returning to competition at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend. Stewart is not a part of this season’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoff.
The District Attorney’s Office did not indicate when the grand jury would be called other than to say it would take place “in the near future.”
“Upon my review of all of the information contained in the entire investigation, I have made the determination that it would be appropriate to submit the evidence to a grand jury, for their determination as to what action should be taken in this matter,” Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “Accordingly, the evidence developed in the investigation will be presented to an Ontario County grand jury in the near future.”
“As grand jury proceedings in New York State are strictly confidential by law, I am unable to state when the matter will be scheduled, other than to state that I intend to present the matter in the near future. Similarly, because of the confidential nature of these proceedings, I cannot state who will be called as witnesses, or what any witness’s expected testimony will be. When the presentation has been completed and a determination has been made, I will advise the public and the media at that time of the results.’’
NASCAR also released a statement on Tuesday following the news release.
“We are aware of the completed investigation and the announced next steps. First, our thoughts continue to be with all who have been impacted by this tragedy. We will monitor this process and stay in close contact with Stewart-Haas Racing. It would be inappropriate for NASCAR to comment on this case so we will continue to respect the process and authorities involved,” said NASCAR Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes.