Tony Stewart will not face criminal charges over the death of Kevin Ward Jr after a grand jury heard that the latter was under the influence of marijuana on the night of the fatal accident.
A toxicology report revealed that the marijuana was “enough to impair judgment” for Ward, who had been gesticulating at Stewart on foot when he was struck and killed by the NASCAR star's sprintcar.
Among other evidence viewed by the jury were two videos of the accident, both of which Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney Michael Tantillo said showed “no aberrational driving” on Stewart's part.
“They were relatively similar in what they showed,” said Tantillo of the videos, one of which was made public on the day of the tragedy.
“They were enhanced and run through programs that allowed the frames to be isolated. … They were pretty important parts of the result here.”
Tantillo added that more than two-dozen witnesses gave evidence over the best part of two days, after which the jury took less than an hour to make it call.
The three-time NASCAR champion, who would have faced either manslaughter in the second degree or criminally negligent homicide should the jury have moved to indict, issued a statement in the wake of the verdict.
“I respect everything the District Attorney and Sheriff's Office did to thoroughly investigate this tragic accident,” he said.
“While the process was long and emotionally difficult, it allowed for all the facts of the accident to be identified and known.
“While much of the attention has been on me, it's important to remember a young man lost his life. Kevin Ward Jr.'s family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers.”
A statement from NASCAR added: “There are no winners in tragedy.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Kevin Ward Jr. family and Tony Stewart as they all cope with this tragic incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.
“This has been a difficult time for everyone involved and we have respected the local authorities responsible for reviewing this case.”