The Associated Press reports NASCAR driver Tony Stewart struck and killed a driver who was walking on a dirt track during a race in upstate New York, according to authorities.
According to the AP report, the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department would not identify the driver but said he was pronounced dead on arrival Saturday night at a hospital in Canandaigua. Sheriff Philip Povero told the AP that the 42-year-old Stewart was “fully cooperative” as he was questioned and released. Povero said the investigation is not criminal.
Here’s more detail from a report by Jim Utter of the Charlotte Observer:
Posts on the social media sites Facebook and Twitter, including photographs, indicate Stewart was involved in an on-track incident with driver Kevin Ward Jr., which left Ward on the track receiving treatment for what were described as serious injuries. Ward is a regular competitor at the speedway.
Ward was transported to F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua. A request for his condition was not immediately returned by the nursing supervisor on call.
According to the track, all racing activities were halted for the night following the incident and fans were asked to return home.
Around 1 a.m. ET, the track posted the following statement on its Facebook page:
“Canandaigua Motorsports Park will not have an official statement on the accident that happened in the ESS race until tomorrow. Please pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers and families.”
— Jim Utter (@jim_utter) August 10, 2014
According to Utter, NASCAR officials had no immediate response to questions about the incident.
Canandaigua Motorsports Park is located southeast of Rochester, N.Y., and southwest of Syracuse, N.Y. It’s about 60 miles northwest of Watkins Glen International, site of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 NASCAR race, in which Stewart was scheduled to start 13th.
A witness told Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News that Stewart and Ward had an altercation on the track.
Tyler Graves, a sprint car racer and friend of Ward’s, told Sporting News in a phone interview that he was sitting in the Turn 1 grandstands and saw everything that happened.
“Tony pinched him into the front-stretch wall, a racing thing,” Graves said. “The right rear tire went down, he spun on the exit of (Turn) 2. They threw the caution and everything was toned down. Kevin got out of his car. … He was throwing his arms up all over the place at Tony for most of the corner.
“I know Tony could see him. I know how you can see out of these cars. When Tony got close to him, he hit the throttle. When you hit a throttle on a sprint car, the car sets sideways. It set sideways, the right rear tire hit Kevin, Kevin was sucked underneath and was stuck under it for a second or two and then it threw him about 50 yards.”
The Associated Press has received a similar report from a witness:
A fan says it appeared Stewart hit a driver who was walking on the track after they collided on a prior lap.
In August 2013, Stewart broke his leg in a sprint-car crash in Iowa, which ended his NASCAR season and snapped his 521-race streak of consecutive starts in NASCAR’s top division. He recovered in time for this season, but currently stands at 19th in the Sprint Cup Series standings.