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Tony Stewart Sued by Kevin Ward Jr.'s Family for Wrongful Death

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist

Tony Stewart (14) walks along on pit row at Pocono Raceway in preparation for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race in Long Pond, Pa., Friday, June 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Mel Evans/Associated Press

The family of Kevin Ward Jr. has reportedly filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tony Stewart, per ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass.

Jeff Gluck of USA Today provided a statement from the Ward family:

Jeff Gluck @jeff_gluck

Statement from Kevin Ward Jr.'s parents re: lawsuit against Tony Stewart. http://t.co/pbwRLQz2HL

On Aug. 14, per Pockrass, Ward's family spoke further on the accident:

"Tony races every weekend," Kevin Ward Sr. said. "Well I know my son will never get to race again. ... He took a very, very big part of my family's life."

"We want justice for our son," Ward's mother Pamela said. "That's what we want. ... I don't feel Tony meant to kill my son. But his actions killed my son. I think he lost his temper."

Ward died on Aug. 9, 2014, while competing in an Empire Super Sprints series dirt-track race at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York.

During the race, Ward and Stewart were side by side at a turn when Ward spun out. While the race was still going on, Ward exited his vehicle to confront Stewart as his No. 14 car was coming around the turn.

Stewart struck Ward, with the impact killing the 20-year-old. Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero confirmed the cause of death was blunt trauma, according to ESPN's Marty Smith.

Stewart released a statement immediately after the accident, via NASCAR:

NASCAR @NASCAR

.@TonyStewart has just released the following statement. http://t.co/UtigLafKWb

A grand jury looked into charges of criminally negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter against Stewart, but determined not enough evidence was present for an indictment.

Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said in the subsequent press conference that the grand jury was presented with two different videos of the incident that were enhanced to provide as much detail as possible, per USA Today.

"The videos did not demonstrate any aberrational driving by Tony Stewart until the point of impact with Kevin Ward, at which point his vehicle veered to the right up the track as a result of the collision," Tantillo told the press. "Prior to that, his course was pretty straight."

In their lawsuit, the Ward family counters that Stewart could've avoided the accident, per Pockrass.

"Stewart could have easily acted reasonably and with prudence to avoid striking Ward, just as all other drivers had done as they passed Ward during the yellow caution flag," they argue in the lawsuit. "Stewart acted with disregard for Ward's life and safety by driving his vehicle in a manner that would terrorize Ward and thereafter strike, severely injure and kill Ward." 

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