In a batch of newly released documents, Tony Stewart‘s official statement on the tragic death of fellow sprint car driver, Kevin Ward Jr. has been revealed to the public.
Following the on-track death of the 20-year-old racing competitor, the Ward family sought civil action against Stewart through a federal ‘wrongful death’ lawsuit they filed nearly a year after the terrible accident occurred.
Racing during an Empire Super Sprints event, Ward crashed his vehicle and exited the driver’s seat approaching oncoming cars as they raced past him. The video of the accident shows Ward moving toward Stewart’s car brandishing his hand in that direction. Moments later, Ward was struck by the rear wheel of Stewart’s car – an impact that killed him instantly.
It is the series of events that happened after Ward exited the vehicle which are being argued in this new court case to determine if Stewart can be held liable for wrongful death. A grand jury refused to indict Stewart on manslaughter charges just a month after the accident in September, 2014.
According to NBC Sports, in the nearly two years since the accident, various court proceedings have occurred with the most recent coming from the Ward family as a response to Stewart’s request for summary judgement in the matter.
Contained within Stewart’s deposition taken on December 8th, 2016 is his full, legal statement on the chain of events that lead up to the death of Kevin Ward Jr. Both Ward’s father and mother attended Stewart’s deposition.
Below are the series of questions posed to Stewart during the deposition and his answers as contained in the court documents. His answers are marked as “A”.
Q. All right. After you saw his car, you saw him; he was on the track?
A. After I — yeah, after I saw his car, then I saw him.
Q. Okay. And —
A. Or a figure. I didn’t know that it was him but I saw —
Q. Fair enough. You saw a person on the track?
Q. When you saw the car, you knew just procedure, that your pass was to be low?
A. Yeah, he was all the way to the outside — the car was all the way to the outside of the track, so anywhere that we went was going to be below it.
Q. All right. So where were you driving your car when you entered turn 1 as on the track? Middle of the track? Low track? High part of the track?
A. I really don’t remember. I mean, typically you would run somewhere in the middle of the racetrack.
Q. Okay. When you saw Mr. — when you saw the car that was disabled at the top part of the track, did you steer your vehicle in any direction that you recall?
A. No. I was already underneath the vehicle.
Q. You were underneath it. Okay. So you did not change the line that you were on based on your realizing where the car was that was disabled was on the track; is that fair?
Q. All right. Now, in relation to the car that was on the track, where was the person that you saw on the track?
A. Initially when I saw the car, I didn’t realize there wasn’t a driver in the car.
Q. But at some point you did?
Q. All right. And when you saw that person, did you from that point on change the direction of your vehicle based on seeing that person on the track?
A. It was a split second from the time that I saw a person until I got to the person.
Q. Okay. Is that a “no”?
A. I attempted to change direction.
Q. Okay. You don’t recall — and when you say you “attempted to change direction,” you attempted to change direction to the left down the track?
Q. All right. It’s your testimony that you did not at any time after seeing Mr. Ward’s car or Mr. Ward on the track steer your car up the track?
A. No, sir.
Other drivers, workers, witnesses and bystanders have been deposed for the case and both sides have submitted scientific analyses of crash reconstruction that give two very different sides to the series of events that happened on that day.
A new court date has been set for April 18th, 2017.
Watch the video below of Tony Stewart addressing Kevin Ward Jr.’s death just shortly after it had happened.