The mother of Kevin Ward Jr. explained Friday why the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tony Stewart, telling ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “we want justice for our son.’’
It marked the first comments from the family since the lawsuit was filed last week in a New York court. A spokesman for Stewart said the driver had no comment on the report. Stewart has not commented on the matter since the lawsuit was filed.
Ward, 20, died of massive blunt trauma Aug. 9, 2014 after he was struck by Stewart’s car during a sprint car race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. Ward hit the wall racing with Stewart, exited his car under caution and walked down the track toward Stewart’s car before he was struck.
The family’s lawsuit states: “As Stewart’s car approached Ward, who was standing on the track, Stewart climbed up, gunned his engine, causing his 700-horsepower vehicle to slide and strike Ward with his right rear tire, crushing Ward and flinging his body an estimated 25 feet down the track.”
Ward was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital about 45 minutes after the incident.
“I wish he wouldn’t have gotten out of the car. More than anybody,’’ Pam Ward told “Good Morning America” on Friday. “But I also acknowledge the fact that if Tony would have stayed low on the track and not gunned his engine and headed for my son, my son would still be here.’’
An Ontario County (N.Y.) grand jury ruled Sept. 24 that Stewart would not face criminal charges after reviewing evidence, including two videos of the incident, and a toxicology report that stated Ward had marijuana in his system.
Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said in September that Ward was under the influence of marijuana “enough to impair judgment” at the time of the accident.
Pam Ward told “Good Morning America” on Friday: “I do not believe my son was impaired.’’
She said that the reason the family has filed a civil lawsuit against Stewart is because “we want him accountable. The civil suit is the only action we have left. … I don’t feel Tony meant to kill my son, but his actions killed my son. I think he lost his temper.’’
The family has requested a jury trial. The family did not state the amount of damages it seeks.