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Tony Stewart hits, kills fellow driver on dirt track

NEED TO KNOW
  • Kevin Ward Jr., 20, had exited vehicle after crash in sprint race
  • Stewart not competing in Sunday's race at Watkins Glen
  • Team sends condolences to Ward's family
Kevin Ward Jr.

Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart hit and killed another driver who was walking on a dirt track during a race in upstate New York Saturday night, authorities said early Sunday.

Get the latest from CNN.com

Kevin Ward Jr., 20, died from injuries suffered in the incident, which occurred at the Empire Super Sprints series event at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

The track is about a two-hour drive from Watkins Glen International race track, where Stewart had been scheduled to race in a NASCAR event Sunday.

Stewart had been scheduled to race in the Cheez-It 355 At The Glen in Watkins Glen, New York, Sunday, but Stewart's team director Greg Zipadelli said Sunday morning the driver has decided not to drive in the event. Watkins Glen is about a two-hour drive from the track where the accident took place.

"Our hearts go out to Kevin's family," Zipadelli said. "This is a very tough, very emotional time for everybody -- his family, our family at Stewart-Haas Racing."

Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero said Ward's car hit the outside wall during lap 14 of a 25-lap race after apparently coming into contact with Stewart's car. Video shows Ward exiting his crashed car, and pointing a finger before Stewart's car appears to strike him on the half-mile dirt track.

Ward was on the way to the hospital in an ambulance when he died, Povero said.

"Stewart has fully cooperated" with an investigation, said Povero. "He acknowledges the collision with the driver."

"I want to make it very clear, there are no criminal charges pending at this time," he said.

Stewart's spokesman said they are trying to sort out the details.

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"A tragic accident took place last night during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating," Mike Arning said. "Tony was unhurt, but a fellow competitor lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

 

Stewart is a three-time champion in NASCAR's top division and also won a sprint car championship in 1995.

CNN's Joe Sutton, Steve Almasy, Chris Welch, Jason Durand and Stephanie Gallman contributed to this report.

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