NASCAR Champ Tony Stewart Could Still Face Criminal Charges

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By Vincent Paul Hidalgo | August 13, 2014 9:39 PM EST

NASCAR champion Tony Stewart is not yet out of the woods in the mishap last weekend which saw the sprint driver run over fellow competitor Kevin Ward Jr., causing the latter's death.

REUTERS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart speaks with crew members during practice for the Daytona 500 qualifying at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, in this file photo taken February 16, 2013. Stewart canceled plans to compete in a race on August 10, 2014, hours after being in an accident at a dirt track in New York state where a driver was killed, team manager Greg Zipadelli said in a televised news conference.

After Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero released a statement to the media that the initial findings indicated that no criminal intent can be substantiated from the crash at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park, some experts with legal background are coming out with suggestions that the renowned track star could still be facing raps.

Ward was hit head on Saturday after he went out of his vehicle to brazen out Stewart stemming from a collision that sent his vehicle careening to the sideline. He was pronounced dead on arrival Saturday night while on his way to a hospital at Canandaigua.

The three-time NASCAR champion was cooperative with authorities when he spoke to the police Saturday night and again, Sunday morning to provide details of the dirt track sprint race crash. Povero said that the county has no schedule of another meeting with Stewart at this time. He did however clarify that the investigation remains open but they did not find any factual evidence to suggest criminal behavior or probable cause to lodge a charge.

Legal authorities believe that he can still be levied with second degree manslaughter under New York law if there is probable cause that establishes that he recklessly caused the death of another person. Another possibility is that he may face is negligent homicide according to criminal law professor Corey Rayburn Yung of the Kansas University School of Law.

Stewart and his camp have been silent on most fronts. After his withdrawal from Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race, he also withdrew his participation in a scheduled dirt track race in Plymouth, Indiana.

"We at Plymouth Speedway extend our deepest condolences and prayers to the family of Kevin Ward Jr. and thoughts and prayers to Tony Stewart and his family. Tony Stewart will not be racing at Plymouth Speedway this Saturday," the track said in the statement as reported by ESPN.

His spokesman, Mike Arning also said Monday that Stewart is still weighing his decision to participate in this weekend's NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway. Arning added that the talented sprint racer is hoping to use all the time to make the decision as he is still grieving from the unfortunate incident.

This is not the first time that Stewart was involved in a mishap at Canandaigua. A year ago, he took responsibility for hitting another car and causing a 15-car crash that resulted to a back fracture to one of the participating drivers, Alysha Ruggles. Although a big celebrity and considerably a rich driver, Stewart still competes in small scale tournament with purses as low as $3,000 against amateur drivers of varying ages and abilities.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Brian Blanco/Files)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart speaks with crew members during practice for the Daytona 500 qualifying at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, in this file photo taken February 16, 2013. Stewart canceled plans to compete in a race on August 10, 2014, hours after being in an accident at a dirt track in New York state where a driver was killed, team manager Greg Zipadelli said in a televised news conference.
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