Family of Kevin Ward seeks to depose Tony Stewart, his former crew chief for lawsuit

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Documents filed in federal court show that the family of sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr., who was killed in an incident with Tony Stewart in August 2014, seek to depose Stewart and Chad Johnston, his former crew chief.

The depositions are part of a wrongful death lawsuit that attorneys for the Ward family filed Aug. 7, 2015, against Stewart.

Ward had been racing with Stewart in an Empire Super Sprint Series race Aug. 9, 2014, at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park when he hit the wall. Ward exited his car and walked down the track toward Stewart’s car during a caution when he was hit and killed.

An Ontario County (N.Y.) grand jury ruled Sept. 24, 2014, that Stewart would not face criminal charges. Stewart stated in court documents last year that he did not see “Ward … walking on foot on the track until just prior to contact.’’

In a Joint Status Report filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, each side listed who they want to depose.

Attorneys for the Ward family seek to depose Stewart, Johnston, who was Stewart’s crew chief at the time of the incident, Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s officers Brad Falkney and Michael Rego, and an investigator, John Abraham.

Attorneys for Tony Stewart seek to depose Ward’s parents, Pamela and Kevin Ward. The attorneys also seek to depose Jessica Zemken, a driver in that Aug. 9, 2014, race and eyewitness, Zemken’s crew chief, Kevin Loveys, Chuck Hebing, a driver in that race and eyewitness, and Brian Ennis, a witness.

A Joint Motion to Amend Scheduling Order requests that deadlines be extended partly because of Stewart’s injury.

A letter dated March 2 amends the request by stating that the previous version incorrectly stated Stewart was remained hospitalized. The letter says the request should have stated that Stewart “had been recently hospitalized.

Stewart-Haas Racing has not given a timetable for Stewart’s return. He suffered a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra during a sand dunes accident Jan. 31.

He had surgery Feb. 3. Stewart was on Periscope Feb. 12 walking on a treadmill, answering some fan questions about his status. Stewart stated on Fox’s broadcast of last weekend’s Daytona 500 that he is scheduled to have an X-ray of his back March 9.

The request to extend deadlines for depositions also was made because some expected to be deposed are in the racing industry. The document states: “By extending all of the dates in the current Scheduling Order 90 days, the parties will be allowed sufficient time to adjust for Mr. Stewart’s recovery and to conduct the depositions of those witnesses involved in the racing industry after the completion of the 2016 season.

Under the proposed deadline extension, all discovery in this case would need to be completed by Jan. 6, 2017. Motions would need to be filed by Feb. 8, 2017, under the extension.

The agreement is awaiting U.S. District Judge Terese Wiley Dancks’ signature.