Former NASCAR driver and current NASCAR team co-owner Tony Stewart and the family of Kevin Ward have reportedly reached a settlement agreement regarding the Ward family’s wrongful death suit against the three-time Cup Series champion.
According to ESPN, a settlement hearing is set for April 12 regarding the pending agreement. Ward’s family filed a civil suit against Stewart in 2015 after Stewart struck and killed Ward in a sprint car race on Aug. 9, 2014 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York.
No criminal charges were filed against Stewart in the matter due to a lack of evidence. Stewart and Ward were racing together when Ward’s car — on the outside of Stewart’s — hit the wall off a corner. The 20-year-old climbed from his car and walked down the track to confront Stewart. Ward was struck by the right-rear tire of Stewart’s car and flung down the race track.
Stewart said in a deposition that he tried to turn to the left when he saw Ward, and that he first saw Ward’s car at the top of the track and didn’t realize there was no one in it.
Q. All right. And when you saw that person, did you from that point on change the direction of your vehicle based on seeing that person on the track?
A. It was a split second from the time that I saw a person until I got to the person.
Q. OK. Is that a “no”?
A. I attempted to change direction.
Q. OK. You don’t recall — and when you say you “attempted to change direction,” you attempted to change direction to the left down the track?
Ward’s family’s legal team had contended that Stewart tried to pitch his car in Ward’s direction when he saw Ward. The Ontario County (New York) prosecutor said toxicology tests determined Ward had enough marijuana in his system to impair judgment.
In the days after Ward’s death, NASCAR banned drivers from climbing from their cars and walking toward others on the track. Drivers must wait for medical and safety personnel before climbing from their cars after accidents or incidents unless they need to get out of their car due to fire or another extenuating circumstance.
Stewart was racing in Canandaigua the night before the Aug. 10 Cup Series race at Watkins Glen. Stewart didn’t race there and missed two more races before returning to the Cup Series. He retired after the 2016 season.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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