US & Canada

No charges for Tony Stewart in death of Kevin Ward Jr

Nascar Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart during a press conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia 29 August 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Stewart said the incident would "stay with me forever"

Nascar driver Tony Stewart will not face charges for fatally striking fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr during a race, prosecutors have said.

A New York grand jury declined to charge Mr Stewart on Wednesday after hearing evidence in the case.

Ward, 20, was killed in August when he exited his vehicle in the middle of a race and was struck by Mr Stewart.

Prosecutors said two videos of the incident showed "no aberrational driving " by Mr Stewart.

And Ward was under the influence of marijuana the night of the accident "enough to impair judgment", according to Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo.

Mr Stewart, 43, a three-time Nascar champion, has said the incident was "the toughest and most emotional experience of my life, and it will stay with me forever".

"While much of the attention has been on me, it's important to remember a young man lost his life. Kevin Ward Jr's family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers," he said in a statement.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Kevin Ward Jr was a competitive sprint car driver

On 9 August, Ward was racing alongside Stewart in a dirt track sprint race in Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York State when his vehicle spun out.

Ward left his car and walked down the track, waving his arms at Mr Stewart in an apparent attempt to confront him.

Officials said another car swerved to avoid hitting Ward. Then, the front of Mr Stewart's vehicle appeared to clear Ward, but he was struck by the right rear tyre and was thrown through the air.

Ward's father later told a local newspaper there was "no reason" for the death, given Mr Stewart's experience and skills.

Mr Stewart went into seclusion after the fatal crash but returned to the racing circuit three weeks later. He co-operated with the grand jury investigation but did not testify in front of the panel.

Prosecutors asked the panel to consider charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

"There were not 12 votes to either charge," Mr Tantillo said.

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