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NASCAR driver Tony Stewart cleared of criminal charges in death of Kevin Ward Jr.

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ONTARIO COUNTY, N.Y. — NASCAR driver Tony Stewart has been cleared of criminal charges by the Ontario County grand jury.

The Ontario County District Attorney announced the decision at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Stewart, a three-time NASCAR top series champion, was driving a dirt-track car when the right rear tire hit Kevin Ward, Jr., who was walking on the track as cars slowly circled during a break in an Empire Super Sprints series race Aug. 9 in Canandaigua, N.Y.

Ward, 20, died of massive blunt trauma before paramedics could get him to a hospital.

The Ontario County District Attorney said a grand jury found no reason to charge Stewart.

“After listening to and questioning all the witnesses and reviewing all of the evidence, the grand jury has decided that there is no evidence to charge Tony Stewart with any crimes,” District Attorney Michael Tantillo said.

The Ontario County grand jury heard testimony from more than two dozen witnesses and reviewed photos and videos before making its decision.

Stewart issued a statement regarding the grand jury’s decision:

“This has been the toughest and most emotional experience of my life, and it will stay with me forever. I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received and continue to receive. I respect everything the District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office did to thoroughly investigate this tragic accident. 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.”