- Kevin Ward Jr’s parents, Kevin and Pamela say Stewart was ‘reckless’
- Questioned why he was the only one of seven cars to hit their son
- Claims he tried to spray dirt on their son, but ended up hitting him
- They filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Stewart earlier this month
- He was cleared by a Grand Jury of criminal charges in 2014
The parents of the NASCAR driver struck and killed by Tony Stewart’s car on a sprint track have said he tried to intimidate their son and ended up knocking him over.
Kevin Ward Jr’s mother and father, Pamela and Kevin Sr, filed a wrongful death lawsuit last week, suggesting the champion driver acted recklessly when he knocked down the 20-year-old motorist.
In their first televised interview since the tragedy, ABC’s Paula Faris asked the pair why they are going through with the case – even though their son’s death has been ruled an accident.
‘Because we feel Tony acted recklessly,’ Mrs Ward responded. ‘There was six other cars that passed my son while he was on the track. But yet we have the best NASCAR driver in the world sliding his car sideways.
‘I feel he tried to intimidate Kevin and throw dirt at him, but ended up hitting and killing my son,’ Mrs Ward said.
Mr Ward added: ‘There is no doubt he knew what he was doing. And it was Tony’s car that revved that motor.’
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Suit: The parents of Kevin Ward Jr (right), a young driver who was struck and killed by Tony Stewart’s car on an upstate New York sprint racing track, have maintained the NASCAR champion acted recklessly
Justice: In the interview, ABC’s Paula Faris asked the pair why they are going through with the case – even though their son’s death has been ruled an accident
Fault: Pamela Ward (pictured next to her husband Kevin Sr) said: ‘There was six other cars that passed my son while he was on the track. But yet we have the best NASCAR driver in the world sliding his car sideways’
Accused: Stewart, seen here in 2014, is the only named defendant in the lawsuit which seeks unspecified monetary damages for the August 9, 2014 crash, attorney Mark Lanierm said
In the lawsuit they accuse the NASCAR driver of gross negligence for gunning his engine and putting his car into a skid as Ward walked onto the track after a crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in 2014.
Stewart is the only named defendant in the lawsuit which seeks unspecified monetary damages for the August 9, 2014 crash, the family’s attorney Mark Lanierm said.
The Wards admit that no amount of money can bring back their son, but that a civil suit is the only way to hold Stewart accountable and bring their son justice.
The Ward family said earlier this month: ‘Our hope is that this lawsuit will hold Tony Stewart responsible for killing our son and show him there are real consequences when someone recklessly takes another person’s life.’
The lawsuit alleges that Stewart, a three-time champion of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, wrongfully caused Ward’s death by acting with ‘wanton, reckless and malicious intent and negligence.’
Overcome with emotion: Kevin Ward Sr teared up as he spoke about his late son with ABC – the Ward couple’s first televised interview since the tragedy
Ward and Stewart had been racing for position at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York on August 9 when Ward crashed.
They both bumped cars during the race and the collision sent Ward into an outside retaining wall while Stewart remained in the race.
Ward jumped from his car in an apparent attempt to confront Stewart during the ensuing caution period.
When Stewart’s car came around on the next lap, Ward, while in the middle of the track, pointed at Stewart.
As Stewart approached Ward, his car appeared to swerve, striking Ward and throwing him 50 feet. Ward died after he was taken to a nearby hospital.
‘ I wish he wouldn’t have gotten out of the car more than anybody, but I also acknowledge the fact that if Tony had stayed low on the track and hadn’t gunned his engine and headed for my son my son would still be here,’ Mrs Ward said.
‘You can hear the acceleration in the tape and that is Tony’s car that is accelerating and you can see that he slides his car sideways. And hits my son, and kills him,’ she adds.
While they don’t think Stewart purposely killed their son, they say that it doesn’t meant he shouldn’t be held responsible.
‘I don’t feel he meant to kill my son but his actions killed my son,’ Mrs Ward said. ‘I think he lost is temper.’
Crash: An image taken from a video of the crash shows Ward being fatally struck by the vehicle
In the aftermath of the crash, an autopsy revealed that Ward had marijuana in his system at the time of the deadly confrontation.
At a news conference about seven weeks after the accident, Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said the levels were ‘enough to impair judgement.’
Shortly after the crash, Stewart kept a low profile staying secluded in his home.
At a press conference in Kannapolis, North Carolina last September Stewart he said it was ‘an accident’ and he had offered to speak to the family.
He said: ‘I want to be available to them if they want to talk about it,’ he said. ‘At this point, I don’t need to talk to them for closure. I know what happened and I know it was an accident.
When asked if there is anything he would have done differently the night of August 9, he said he would have skipped the race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park altogether.
In 2014 Stewart said: ‘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… It’s going to be a part of me forever.’
Getting back to the track: Stewart seen here driving in 2014, sat out the next three NASCAR races following the accident and has not commented on the lawsuit
In 2014, a grand jury concluded that they would not indict him in the death a decision that Stewart said ‘he was glad with.’
‘I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a piece of relief, but that was very short-lived in my heart,’ he said. ‘It went right back to the fact that we lost Kevin. We lost a young driver that had a lot of talent.’
‘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… It’s going to be a part of me forever.’
Stewart, who sat out the next three NASCAR races following the accident, has not commented on the lawsuit.
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