Saturday Night August 9th, Tony Stewart was in an accident that caused the death of fellow Sprint Car racer Kevin Ward Jr. Read about the incident here from Dustin Long at MRN: Driver Killed In Incident With Stewart.
At the time of the accident the local authorities found no reason to charge Stewart with any crime. Days later, they back tracked and proceeded with a full investigation. After that investigation was complete, they submitted the results to the District Attorney. The district Attorney decided that the matter should be sent to a Grand Jury to determine if charges were warranted. The Grand Jury has come back finding there is nothing that would warrant criminal charges. He was exonerated!
Technically he wasn’t exonerated because Tony Stewart would have had to have actually been charged with something and been convicted. In the media there were some articles and commentary that read like he had. On social media sites, some people were commenting the same. It is unfortunate because in the United States of America you are innocent until proven guilty.
When prepping to write this I was discussing the issue with my daughter. She wanted to know for herself what happened. When beginning to search on YouTube, she typed “Tony Ste” and before she could finish up came “Tony Stewart Kills Man”.
When the tragic accident occurred, the titles written were salacious and convicting at the same time. If you are innocent until proven guilty why would one write such a title? Especially since these titles live on forever on the internet. It’s done to get viewers. I even did it with my title on this article.
There is hope for Stewart; it has only been a few hours and if you Google Tony Stewart there is an overwhelming number of articles about him being cleared. Those salacious ones are still there, but they are buried deep in the list.
Unfortunately in social media there will always be people who made up their mind via those salacious titles and articles. They are still there. It’s disturbing because we do have a pretty good video. It shows racing. It shows a driver wrecking not unlike what happens just about every Saturday night in America. It shows a driver getting out of his car and walking down the track while cars are still running. It shows the same driver getting hit by a driver. That is what the jury saw.
The tragedy of this will live with Tony Stewart forever; as it will with every race fan that has seen it. It will live with Kevin Ward Jr’s family forever too. One can only hope that the Jury has spoken and that we can move on, heal and get back to racing.
Feature Photo Credit: 286607 Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images