Who Was at Fault in Stewart-Ward Crash?

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TAYLOR -- The images are hard to ignore: driver Kevin Ward, 20, on a dirt track in Upstate New York moments before he was hit and killed by the car driven by NASCAR star Tony Stewart.

Ward can be seen on the Canandaigua Motorsports Park track after leaving his car, making a pointing gesture.

Was Ward at fault for getting out of his car?

Or was Stewart driving too aggressively?

At The Winners Circle in Taylor, a pub that caters to race fans, some people felt Ward made a deadly mistake.

"I think if he had stayed in that car he would still be alive," John "Vegas" Hudak said.

Waitress Angie Emond said she has sons the same age as Ward. She said she understands how a young adult's temper can flare.

"They don't think. You get in a car accident or something and you panic. I think that is what happened," Emond said.

Former Pro Driver Joe Amato is a veteran of the raceway and knows Stewart personally.

"I don't think there is a chance Tony was gunning for him. Tony Stewart is a class guy. He wouldn't even entertain the thought," said Amato.

Stewart often visited smaller tracks before a major event. Just one week ago he raced at Selinsgrove Speedway. According to the race track's Facebook page, Ward also competed there in the past.

The debate continues on social media.

One person wrote on the WNEP Facebook page, "Stewart should go to jail."

Stewart did pull out of Sunday's race at Watkins Glen and released a statement saying in part, "There are no words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of of Kevin Ward Jr."


  • JP

    It’s a race and isn’t being aggresive the point? The slowest person doesn’t take home the trophy, the money, or the glory. Maybe he shouldn’t have gotten out of his car, maybe Tony is a hot head, maybe…… In the end should we just limit race car drivers to a speed limit and only allow pastors and nuns to race?? Sympathy to the families!

  • Chatty Kathy

    Stewart’s front wheels miss the road rage pedestrian who then walked into the path of the rear wheels. Ward should have never left his car. Ward seemed to be angry, pointing and yelling and walking right into Stewart’s car. Stewart’s instant reaction was to swerve however Ward was already too close to the rear wheels. Ward’s attitude and actions display road rage; Stewart was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Stewart feels badly but can not be held at fault.

    • D

      Yeah, that’s what they told me when I hit that guy yesterday in traffic and killed him. He jumped out of his car and was waving his hand at me. It was road rage on his part. He shouldn’t have been in the street and I shouldn’t be in jail for hitting the guy but guess what? It’s still called Manslaughter. Perhaps if I had a high profile job and lots of money I too could get out of it pretty easily…

  • Girly girl

    You people must not have attended a dirt race in your life! Racing has been in my blood since birth as a child you are taught to be aware why? Because a drivers view is very very limited especially in a sprint car! If he was not famous ppl wouldn’t being playing the blame game. Every drivers meeting the same sentance are stated “never under any circumstances do you exit your car on the track unless under deadly or critical circumstances!” These cars are running 130 on a mile dirt track he knew better he is not new to the race game! Every one is placing disregard to the fact that the boy got out of his car to attack tony Stewart one statement was correct why would (regardless of being a hot head) tony Stewart risk his NASCAR career for a no body in the racing industry he wouldn’t! This isn’t the first racing death the only reason it is so blunt and public is because the man is famous lets all get that out now! If he was deliberately turning into him I promise you it’d be noticeable. And let me explain as a race track owners kid every seat you sit in shows a different view! I’ve been above, inside, and around a race track what you see as a spectator and what you see as an official and ecspecially what you see from the confinement of a helmet racing harness and a hawns device is completely different he couldn’t turn his neck to see this kid running across the speedway his slight glimpse was the only and sadly the last he saw of the guy

    • Chatty Kathy

      Stewart’s front wheels miss the road rage pedestrian who then walked into the path of the rear wheels. Ward should have never left his car. Ward seemed to be angry, pointing and yelling and walking right into Stewart’s car. Stewart’s instant reaction was to swerve however Ward was already too close to the rear wheels. Ward’s attitude and actions display road rage; Stewart was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Stewart feels badly but can not be held at fault.

    • BZ22

      Were those cars going 130 MPH under caution? Tony Stewart has gotten out of his car under the same type circumstances to express his displeasure toward someone and lived to tell about it. If you’ve attended races all your life you’ve seen drivers swerve at, try to spin dirt, etc., at those who are out of their car making gestures and yelling after being put in the wall. It happens nightly at every track. If the situation was reversed and Tony had gotten out of his car to go after Ward, what would the reactions and comments be?

  • innocent bystander

    TL;DR on the bottom of my comment.
    I don’t follow NASCAR at all, but i did see the video of the incident. I’ve also read close to all of the comments below me and this is my personal opinion. The first thing i noticed is Ward left his vehicle and i think that was a very poor decision on his part. I also saw other cars swerving to get out of Wards way, so in some way you could see him on the track.

    As for Tony Stewart it does sound like he rev’s the engine just as he hits Ward but we don’t know what was going through his head, for all we know he saw him at the last second but it was to late to not strike him, on the other hand he could have been gunning for him.

    Personally if Tony Stewart men’t it or not he should still be punished, not because hes a blood thirsty murderer but b/c he mistakenly took at life (Involuntary Manslaughter).

    TL;DR: they were both at fault

    • innocent bystander

      I would like to retract the part where i said Tony Stewart rev’s his engine just before hitting Ward. after watching the video again you can clearly see the car (number 45) was the one who revved, you can see his wheels peeling out after he passes Ward.

  • BZ22

    Ward “didn’t think” anything about getting out of his car to express his displeasure at Tony Stewart. Stewart “didn’t think” anything about revving, spinning a tire to throw some dirt, etc., at the kid. Drivers do these things weekly at tracks everywhere. These two “didn’t think” moments came at a very high price this time. Ward paid with his life and Stewart will be lucky if it only costs him a major chunk out of his checkbook.

  • Darrin Ballard

    I don’t follow NASCAR at all so forgive me any obvious ignorance in my sincere comment. I find it hard to believe that so many people on this thread think that Stewart had a great view of what was going on. I have raced a bit and your focus is very specific, yellow flag cars in front slowing down resetting, slippery track, etc. , things happen quickly and to have a person purposely running on the track at your car is likely not to be something you are looking for or prepared to react to. To me he seemed to make some sort of evasive action but too little too late. Does the kid foolishly being on the track give Stewart license to run him over? Of course not, does it give Stewart a HUGE benefit of the doubt? It sure does for me. My prayers are with both.

    • ME

      Having raced cars myself, if the track gets slippery, they black flag the race, and bring the driers out. Having watched the video, Tony does rev the engine up, now if he had the clutch held at the time, there would be no acceleration, but the car does lurch forward and drift up the track and Tony does have a history of anger problems.And while the caution is out, there is a speed limit, which makes it safe to see more of your surroundings, go drive your car down the block at 30mph and tell me what you see….

      • Brad

        It amazes me the amount of people on here that are commenting on a subject they know virtually nothing about. There are comments in here about using dryers to dry the track, spotters giving him directions, and etc. The fact is dirt track racing is different than any other kind especially sprint cars. There is no radio communication. The tracks are slippery. In a sprint car the wing obstructs the drivers view on the right side from about the 1 o’clock position to the 3 if looking forward. The tracks are not well lit. The drivers especially 14 laps in and having been in traffic have mud caked all over the car including their helmets further obstructing their views. To “ME” the above commenter the cars do not have clutches!!! He most likely did not see Kevin until the very last second and by that time it was too late. It is sad but he should have stayed in his car and confronted stewart after the race. If this would have been any other driver this probably wouldn’t have even made national news. Please inform yourself of this type of racing before jumping to conclusions and making remarks. This camera view is not even close to what the driver can see. Go to you tube and look up in car cameras of sprint cars there are many and see for yourself just how much visiblity there is.

  • dee

    We can see the the driver in black on the video and the people in the stands can see the man in black and could see him get hit so why give the excuse that Tony could not see him. HE KILLED SOMEONE plain and simple.

    • Pam

      Dee, if you have ever been in a sprint car, you would realize that the view of the driver differs from the view of the spectators. The wing on top , slanting downward , restricts the view of the driver on the right side a great deal. The drivers that swerved saw him at the last second and were able to get out of the way abruptly. Tony probably didn’t see him and he punched the gas to do just what the other cars in front of him did. Rule #1 of racing= stay in your car at all times unless
      There is a fire.

  • Jacqui

    To all who think Tony Stewart should “go to jail”, you need to think again. Tragically, Paul Ward chose to get out of his car with the intent of confronting Tony, and confront he did. Sadly that confrontation cost him his life. Hormones rage and youthful exuberance can be deadly. Tony gained nothing by showing up for these races but pleasure, fighting to the death is not even a fleeting thought so kindly stop harassing a man who now must live with the fact that he inadvertently caused a death that never could, should, or would have happened if the young driver would have kept his cool.

  • honeslty

    looks to me as if stewart was trying to pass (on foot) ward a little fast probably to avoid the confrontation. ward ran up into the direct path of the car and as a reaction stewart trys to gun the car around ward.. look at the front wheels. he actually spun the cars rear away from ward but it was to late. the front wheels would have been turned towards the camera or viewer if it were intentional…


    I wish someone would make a video showing two of these cars in the same positions with the camera in the trailing car to show how much visibility these drivers really have.

    How many times I have seen comments from drivers that they have little to no visibility being behind another driver. Some even comment they are trying to look through the windshield of the car in front of them.

    This was a tragic event. But I am sorry, I agree with those who said the driver should have never left his car. And do you really think Tony would risk SHR and his career for a race like this that has nothing to do with his Nascar teams.

  • toomany

    Ward getting out of his car to stand and point at Stewart as he drove by was very poor judgment. However, he was a 20 year old KID, most likely newer to the circuit and full of showmanship. Stewart being the veteran should have schooled this young man not in a way which resulted in his death but, in a way a true class act veteran. Stewart showed not only no class for himself or his sport but, in my opinion, careless disregard for another human life. That’s a tough one to live with regardless of legal outcome. At the very least NASCAR needs to sanction Stewart.

  • Pere

    I just want to point out two things which bear consideration, as the question of the degree of Stewart’s responsibility is weighed.

    First, there was a context here which preceded Ward’s getting out of his car. From earlier events, each man had a state of mind which then guided his actions, conscious or not. Ward leaving his car may have been a critical moment of poor judgment, but it is not the whole story.

    Second, some people are dismissing the event as an “accident”–as if the only factor bearing on Stewart’s role is whether he *meant* to kill Ward. But accidents are mostly not random events; they result from various bad decisions, and carelessness. That an outcome is accidental does not mean there is no blame to be laid.

  • P. Kersey

    Can’t believe with important stories in our area noone even comments. Bring a national race story on and wham comments galore. PEOPLE need to wake up the county is in the toilet, crime, high taxes etc… I think we need to forget the BS and talk about whats IMPORTANT!

  • Beckie

    Ok clearly we see from the video that the driver exits his car to have a verbal confrontation. .we also see the other cars swerve to miss the person waving their arms in the middle of a race track(who according to most tracks rules is not allowed unless the car is on fire)….Then we see a breakaway from the driver for a split second followed by the tragedy of a 20 year old losing his life..which is now posted on the internwt and has been viewed MILLIONS OF TIMES by people who are trying to place blame…..Should thebdriver have gotten out of his car? No…..Should Stewart have “hit the gas”?…No……But does fighting over who was right or wrong take back the fact that a 20 year old lost their life? Or does it change the fact that if it was TRULY an accident that Tony Stewart will have to live with this the rest of his life? Im not a Stewart fan. I have been to many Nascar and dirt track races..I have witnessed Stewarts tantrums first hand (Helemt throwing at Bristol 2012 & many others). However, I believe that in time this will be thoroughly investigated and justice will be served in some shape or form….But fighting about it doesnt bring back the fact that this family no longer has their son….And im sure knowing that this horrific video is being viewed for the sake of arguing in public forums of fault is sickening to the family.. Prayers to the Ward family!!

    • ME

      A millionaire is involved, no such thing as justice, this was put out here as a publicity stunt by Stawart-Haas Racing so no judge will even try the case if it went to trial, they will simply say too much public involvement to even think of having a straight trial therefor causing charges dropped of a mistrial….

  • Barbara Ann Prosen-Monroe

    He hit the gas because he is racing on a dirt track and that’s what they do to slide thru the turns!!! He is also racing at night and the kid is wearing all black gear. The car that swerved and missed the kid just before Tony hit him could have been blocking his view. Things happen fast on a race track. It’s a horrific accident but the 1ST RULE on the track is NOT to get out of your car until emergency vehicles arrive on the scene, unless of course the car is on FIRE. I am so sorry this happened but we are not seeing the whole picture either, just a snippet that the press released.

    • B Deeds

      everyone keeps saying he was wearing black, he couldn’t be seen… well then how are we seeing him on the track on video take by cellphones no less? If you look at any of the videos – there are shadows on the outside wall so obviously there was good lighting… Tony Stewart is more at fault than what is being said or proven at this point… stop making excuses…

    • Richard

      No you use the steering wheel, at that point the race was under Caution. Any snippet on the news or ESPN (that I have seen) are careful to not play the sound of Tony punching the gas, you got to watch the videos on YouTube.

  • Bill

    Did anyone actually watch the WHOLE video on YouTube before posting an opinion? Turn your volume up and listen who punches the gas before this kid is thrown through the air. Shame on this station for posting half of the story.

  • Richard

    You can watch Sprint Cup and see Tony’s Road Rage many times every year. Watch the YouTube videos of this terrible tragedy and you can hear Tony hit the throttle which caused his car to FISHTAIL into Kevin. It sure took Tony a long time to pull out of todays Cup race, that tells you something about him. If the law doesn’t do anything to him, Tony knows what he did and he’ll have to live with himself.

  • Eburke

    Never walk in front of a car on a speeding track. Isn’t it the first thing our parents teach. Ward made a deadly mistake out of anger. He should have never gone onto the track.

  • Arvin

    Tony was following the 45 car but slightly off to the right. Ward, had a very good chance of being hit since he was wearing black, in dim lighting, with his car behind him. Any experienced driver (Tony) wouldn’t expect to find a driver in the middle of the track. It was a completely senseless death that Tony has to live with and couldn’t have prevented.

    • Dereen

      Arvin, I totally agree with you. This is a very sad time. I am a fan of Tony Stewart, and I have seen him race these Sprint cars. There is no way that man would jeopardize his life and career by “intentionally” hit someone. Being in those cars, it is very difficult to see. It was dark, the guy was in black, not to mention that Tony had driven past the wrecked race car at least one, if not 2 times after the crash. Then he comes around again, and there is Kevin running up to his car. I think Stewart had no idea he was going to be there and I feel it startled him and he probably tried to swerve and miss Ward, but he got caught by the rear tire. Also, people need to realize that these races do not have spotters, or radios in the cars, so Tony never knew that Kevin was out on the track. He stopped as soon as he knew what happened.My heart goes out to Kevin Ward Jr.’s family & Tony Stewart as well. Poor Tony will have to live with this for the rest of his live. Shame on all of those who feels that he did it on purpose and should be punished!! :-(

  • Janet Ann

    1st let me prayers for this poor boys family and also for Tony Stewart. But after all, this is not the 1st altercation Tony Stewart has had–remember his anger management. I sure hope it wasn’t intentional and he meant to hit him–but I’m not so sure; if he wanted to scare him–well I guess it went a little to far!!

  • B Deeds

    from watching the video it seems that all the other drivers swerved to miss him but Stewart makes a direct line towards him. There’s more involved in the squabble/etc between them than we have been told. Once everything is out in the open a better decision can be made.

  • Cargirl

    Most racetracks have a strict rule that if something happens to your car, you are not to get out of it until help arrives in the form of a tow.. Unless in the case of a fire, but you are never to walk onto the track while it’s hot.

  • Realdeal

    So I get out of my car on a freeway and then run down the middle if the road at oncoming traffic jump out into the path of a vehicle doing high speeds ohh yea I am in all black at night as well, who’s falt is it ?? When I get hit. Ohh yea mine that’s right, I am sry for the loss truly but no ones falt but his, tragic.

    • toomany

      What does a person’s profession have to bare on whether or not they have a valid opinion or the right to express it? Spend more time in class Fratboy, I think your Braun has become beer logged.

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