Tony Stewart will not face charges in deadly crash

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Driver Tony Stewart sits in his car gets as it gets serviced during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
The Associated Press

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (AP) — Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart will not be charged with the death of a fellow driver at a sprint car race in upstate New York, prosecutors said Wednesday in disclosing for the first time that the victim had enough marijuana in his system the night he died to impair his judgment.

Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said a grand jury decided against charging Stewart with either second-degree manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide in the Aug. 9 death of Kevin Ward Jr., who was struck and killed as he walked down the track in an apparent attempt to confront the NASCAR veteran after their cars got tangled up one lap earlier.

‘‘There is toxicology evidence in the case relating to Kevin Ward that indicates that at the time of operation he was under the influence of marijuana,’’ Tantillo said. ‘‘The levels determined were enough to impair judgment.’’

Tantillo also said two videos — one from a fan, the other from the tiny track in this New York hamlet, had been examined and enhanced. Both showed Stewart did not do anything wrong and that there was no ‘‘aberrational driving.’’

The decision came nearly seven weeks after Stewart’s car struck and killed Ward, sending shock waves through the top racing series in the United States. The brash and popular NASCAR driver known as ‘‘Smoke’’ spent three weeks in seclusion following what he called a tragic accident before quietly returning to the Sprint Cup circuit. One of the biggest stars in the garage, Stewart has 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts but is winless this year and did not make the championship Chase field.

Written by JENNA FRYER and CAROLYN THOMPSON
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