Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart will find out no later than next week whether authorities will pursue charges in the death of a driver he struck during a sprint car race in upstate New York last month.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said Thursday that his office has completed its investigation and submitted it to the district attorney’s office for review. He did not release the findings.
“The District Attorney’s Office, which has been meeting throughout the investigative process with members of the Sheriff’s Office, will make a statement late next week advising what action will be taken regarding the investigation,” the statement said.
Stewart’s car struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. at Canandaigua Motorsports Park during a nighttime race Aug. 9. Ward had climbed out of his car and walked onto the dirt track to confront Stewart after he spun out while the two raced side by side.
Povero said early on that his initial findings turned up nothing that would indicate criminal intent in the crash, but legal experts have said that does not mean Stewart is in the clear.
Stewart could be charged with second-degree manslaughter under New York law if prosecutors believe he “recklessly caused the death of another person,” with negligent homicide another possibility, criminal law professor Corey Rayburn Yung of the University of Kansas School of Law said in the days after the crash.
The district attorney also could decide there is not enough evidence to support charges and decide against presenting it to a grand jury for an indictment.
In his statement, Povero said his office had submitted to the prosecutor “the entire thorough investigation, including a forensic video enhancement recently received” from state police.
The statement said neither Povero nor District Attorney R. Michael Tantillo would comment further.
Stewart spent three weeks in seclusion following Ward’s death before returning to racing. Over the weekend, he failed in his last chance to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, NASCAR’s playoff. He has called the death a tragic accident and expressed sympathy for Ward’s family.
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