Open Thread: Should NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart Be Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter?

First of all, I forgot to put up the Open Thread on Friday, so here it is better late than never.

But also, to piggie back on Kevin’s thread, for all you moral ethicists out there, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart accidentally hit and killed another driver on a race track in New York. The other driver was walking away from his car when Stewart hit him.

So, here is the question… should Stewart be charged with murder, or at least vehicular manslaughter?

After all, no matter how bad of an idea it was for him to be walking among fast, heavy traffic, if YOU hit a guy on the highway who was walking away from his car, YOU would be arrested and charged with everything the state could throw at you.

But, on the other hand, this other driver knew his job was risky, right? And accidents happen in racing, don’t they?

Should Stewart be let off because he’s well known, or because it’s just racing? Or…. or should he face charges?

Tell us below.

Weekend Caption Contest™ Winners
NASCAR Champ Tony Stewart Runs Over Kevin Ward Jr. In On Track Altercation
  • Paul Hooson

    At this point it looks like it may be treated as a just an accident, but is highly unfortunate. – BTW, mt dad’s brother, John used to a racer in the early days of what became NASCAR in the 1950′s in Charleston, S.C. – He raced a Ford with a Mercury engine in it, but those Hudson’s were very hard to beat in those days with their low center of gravity step down frame that could take corners a lot better than those Fords or Chevys, and those big 308ci 6cylinder engines Hudson used with that very strong “greem metal” engine designs. The Hudsons were a much better quality car than the mass produced stuff from Ford and Chevy, and a formidable challenger in handling, engine design and power. One look under the hood of a Hudson, and you knew these were a great machine with fine racing ability.

    • westcoastwiser

      We all loved the Hudson Hornets.

      • warnertoddhuston

        My favorite 1920s ball team. ;)

    • jim_m

      Wow. I thought it would be difficult to turn an article about someone’s unfortunate death into something about yourself but I see that I underestimated you.

      • Paul Hooson

        I’m sorry if it seems like ice water flows through my veins rather than blood, Jim, but I figure that injury or death goes with motorsports in some circumstances, and not a lot can be done to change that. I know that’s of little comfort to some grieving family here. – Back in 2008 after I had a motorcycle crash shortly after my mother died, when I skidded on some hail and got rolled and thrown 25 feet, broke the gas tank and bent the steel frame, my only interest was my sorrow for my bike. I was laughing and joking about my leg torn open. “Well, I had my fun for today!”, and it pissed off some people who don’t understand the biker lifestyle. You make the best of a crash, and as soon as you can walk, you ride again….Tony Stewart no doubt feels badly, but you get behind the wheel and drive again….Life doesn’t stop because of one bad crash….

        • jim_m

          It’s not that ice flow through your veins. It’s that you are like Narcissus and when you look at a story you only see yourself reflected and are too oblivious to notice that fact. Certainly we all understand the world through the lens of our own experience, but not everything is about us.

          • Paul Hooson

            The other day a close friend of mine had a close relative killed by a drunk driver. I’ve had a difficult time expressing sympathy, although I care. I’ve been through enough deaths in my life that they seem pretty routine to me now, where deaths don’t seem to phase me much anymore. Ice does flow through my veins, Jim.

          • jim_m

            Others would consider it a personality disorder and a character flaw rather than something to boast about as you do.

          • Paul Hooson

            No, I’m just a tough guy.

      • Paul Hooson

        Jez, I just noticed that I actually brought both BruceHenry and Jim together here for once. That’s a rare event! – I guess not showing much concern for the victim wasn’t popular here….

  • westcoastwiser

    The first rule when hit or have an accident is to stay in the car until rescue crews arrive. Sorry for the loss, but he did something that threatened his own life and paid for it. It’s hard enough to control a race car on a dirt track, then add someone running on the track and it’s a recipe for disaster .

  • Proof

    I attribute it to road rage. When you get so angry you wander out onto a race track, with a race in progress, to confront a guy in a speeding car, you become a candidate for a Darwin Award. I feel bad for the guy, but it was entirely avoidable by staying the hell off the middle of the race track.
    Stewart shouldn’t be charged with anything.

  • Mindy Naylor

    This guy was practically committing suicide walking out onto a race track with a race in progress! Common Sense would save so many lives! I agree with the comment about this being a result of road rage. There are lots of lessons to be learned from this tragedy. Don’t let this death be in vain – Let’s learn some lessons from it!!!

  • jim_m

    Absolutely NOT!!!

    There is no evidence that Stewart knew that he had forced Ward off the track. It doesn’t even look like they made contact before the accident.

    In video of the incident you can hear a car’s engine revving but that is not Stewart’s car. There is no evidence that he accelerated. Stewart’s car appears to veer to the right but it is not clear that he does this and is quite possible that the car moves as a result of Ward’s body going underneath.

    People are all up in arms about this but in reality you wouldn’t ask this if Ward had walked out onto a busy interstate at dusk. The situation is little different. It is unfortunate but it is not Stewart’s fault.

  • jim_m

    Since we have an open thread….

    The infamous JournOList is back!!!

    Like a zombie, left wing media bias never dies it rises once more and while denying its own existence continues to work to shape the public discourse by denying unbiased access to information.

    Although it’s natural for opinion journalists to share stories and theories with each other, Gamechanger Salon members appear to implement comprehensive strategies to completely control the discussion of particular topics in the mainstream media.

    Now is what they are doing illegal? Not unless we are shown that the current membership includes the staff of elected officials or political campaigns. But what it shows is that left wing media is not to be trusted and indeed, cannot be trusted as a source for any news.

    It’s not necessarily unethical for opinion journalists (notice my repeated use of the word “opinion”) to do this. The existence of Gamechanger Salon does, however, prove a point conservatives have made again and again about left wing bias in the mainstream media: it’s real, it’s spectacular, and it’s an extremely effective way of making sure right wing viewpoints stay out of sight.

    Any organization with members on this list should be held as highly suspect until it is demonstrated that it has told the entire truth on any subject

    • Brucehenry

      So it’s “natural” and it’s “not necessarily unethical” but it still gives you butthurt. Got it.

      • jim_m

        Notice that it is not unethical for opinion writers. Bias is the center of their business.

        It is explicitly unethical for news writers, who are supposed to report all the news in a factual and unbiased fashion. In fact the MSM claims that their news is unbiased. It is not. The point is that the list is not exclusively opinion writers and they are discussing how to report the news not on how they want to opine.

        I recognize that for a lefty like you, you may have difficulty in distinguishing between the news and opinion. You will have to take my word on it that there is a difference.

      • Rodney G. Graves

        The brucehmorrhoid finally found a topic on which it is qualified to speak: butthurt.

        • jim_m

          It’s a topic he enjoys

        • Brucehenry

          As I’m in the pest control industry nowadays, I’m also qualified to discuss annoying mosquitoes who constantly and perpetually make the same repetitive noise and have no constructive purpose as far as civilized man is concerned.

          But we won’t discuss their human equivalents here.

          • jim_m

            So you used to be in the restaurant business? After attracting the cockroaches you have dedicated your life to getting rid of them. That’s actually a pretty honorable decision.

          • Brucehenry

            I do what I can. We all have our regrets.

          • jim_m

            Regrets… Weaknesses… Whatever.

          • Brucehenry

            Whatever indeed

          • jim_m

            regrets are unprofessional

    • SwimDude

      I see Jim, you are a Republican. I get that from the link you provided and your utter disdain for the deceased. I don’t know what being a Democrat or Republican have to do with anything but hey you took a shot at Liberals, as if being a Thinker, Like Liberals often are, is a bad thing.

      The facts are Tony Stewart is Famous. Tony Stewart killed Kevin Ward. Kevin Ward is in fact dead you know. If you watch the video on a large screen you can clearly see Tony Stewart swerve the tail end of his car towards Kevin Ward. If you turn up the volume you can also hear Tony Stewart’s car Rev just before he runs over Kevin Ward. I suspect that Tony Stewart decided he was going to show that Little Pizz Ant- Kevin Ward who was boss and Tony Misjudged how close he was To Kevin and he accidentally hit him. Was this Murder? Maybe heat of the moment Road Rage. However it was man slaughter. Back to my initial point Tony Stewart is Famous and like so many before him, OJ Simpson, Ted Kennedy, Laura Bush, Ray Lewis, etc. Famous rules. No charges will ultimately be filed.

      • jim_m

        Idiot. You cannot hear Stewart’s engine because the audio is from in front of the stands. The microphone doesn’t pick that sound up. He swerves after Ward is under the wheels not before.
        What you have is a lot of prejudice and no evidence.
        And I do not disdain the value of Ward’s life. I have not denigrated him as some have. It was a tragic accident. But it was an accident an not murder as idiots like you claim.

        • SwimDude

          Hey Jim. When you start calling someone names you have already lost the argument. I watched the video on a 10 foot wide by 6 foot high projection video screen. We did it frame by frame. I would hope the police have technology this good. In addition we have a 50 k mixer system where we can filter out back ground noise. Absolutely Tony Stewart gunned the engine. He is guilty of man slaughter. The police most likely have no stones to go after a celebrity but Tony Stewart is in fact guilty.

  • Kristy

    No, he shouldn’t face charges, this was an accident. Racing is a dangerous world and the other driver made a huge mistake by walking away from his car. I’m not saying he deserved to get hit but a reasonable person would expect to get hit under those circumstances. And I disagree with states going after people who accidentally hit a person. In the old days, only people who intended to harm were sent to jail.

  • Brucehenry

    I don’t want to crucify anybody but doesn’t Stewart have a history of hothead behavior?

    • jim_m

      That would apply to approximately 99% of all race drivers (road rage is almost a prereq).

    • westcoastwiser

      Must be way past your bedtime Brucy-baby!

  • MA

    Yes he should! If you gather all of Tony Stewart’s video footages where he gets into altercations with other drivers, Kevin Ward Jr’s family might have a case. Sadly, Nascar officials will try to protect Stewart as much as they can.

    • jim_m

      You have proof of intent? Or you are just deciding that he should be punished for the sum of his offenses even if he did nothing wrong here?

  • Warner Todd Huston

    Here is my favorite story for today…

    Some guy says a woman came up behind him as he waited at a Burger King and she was letting her little brat run wild, constantly screaming “I want a fuc**ng pie.” When he asked her to clam the brat down she told him to get stuffed.

    So, when he got to the ordering counter ahead of her, he bought EVERY pie the joint had just to deny the brat a pie.

    Whether he did it for real or not I love the tale.

    • westcoastwiser

      Pretty shallow life you must live. Here’s a Whopper Jr. on me you putz!

  • Retired military

    I blame this entire incident on Bush. And umm Global warming. After all they are responsible for everything else.

    • jim_m

      They were trying to be ‘green’ by not lighting the track. Had they had proper track lighting perhaps Stewart would have seen Ward and this would have been avoided.

      Were it not for the neocons deliberately trying to destroy the planet through AGW this tragic death would have been avoided.

  • jim_m

    Obama’s “Smarter Foreign Policy” &#0153 is starting to pay off:

    Hungary’s Viktor Orbán has openly renounced Western-style democracy for the nationalist authoritarianism of Putin’s Russia.

    …Orbán said the ideal state should be based instead on something he called “national foundations.” He made no mention of the separation of powers or checks and balances or freedom of the press or minority rights. Quoting a supposedly highly regarded (but unnamed) American analyst, he noted that liberal democracies, as in the U.S., were marked by corruption, lawlessness, sex, and drugs.

    SO obama is leading the world right into the arms of fascism. I struggle with finding how this isn’t his intent. But to be honest, it is really hard to distinguish the US government under obama from any kleptocracy in Africa, so Orban may have a point.

  • jim_m

    Everyone is piling on obama’s ‘Smarter Foreign Policy”&#0153 now.

    “The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,”

    Yeah, sounds like some right wing chicken hawk, right? Nope. It’s Hillary Clinton, espousing the very same thing that many of us here said that should have been done. And yet all the great lefty minds tell us that there was never any such opportunity. Sorry guys, your former Secy of State says that you are wrong.

  • LiberalNightmare

    The problem with Obama’s foriegn policy is that it looks an awful lot like bein’ a pussy.

    • jim_m

      “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” -HRC

    • jim_m

      Coup going on in Iraq as we speak. Another victory for obama’s foreign policy. He has given over Iraq to islamists and authoritarian dictatorship. This is exactly what the left wanted. How many people will die as a result of these policies?

  • LiberalNightmare

    The other driver wasn’t waking away from his car. He was walking out into race traffic.

    I cant see a way to blame stewart for this, its closer to a suicide then a murder.

  • westcoastwiser

    Warner, the fact that you would post this for discussion shows what a shallow person you are! You don’t know the “rules” of racing and you show zip compassion to those involved. Your license to post and opine should be revoked!

    Kevin, are your reading this?

  • Rob Hassen

    If you see the video, it’s clear Stewart turned into Ward. The other drivers somehow avoided Ward, so it wasn’t the track. It looks like he may have tried to kick up dirt on the guy but ended up hitting him instead. It won’t be murder and yes Ward should have stayed in his car. But manslaughter may apply if his reckless actions, ie: moving towards the other driver instead of away, resulted in Ward’s death.

    • jim_m

      If you watch the video frame by frame you see that Stewart’s car doesn’t swerve until Ward is under the wheels. Basically, some people just want Stewart to be punished. I won’t speculate as to why.

      • therealrockstone

        I’ve never heard of the guy so I really have no agenda either way. The video I watched shows a car fishtailing into a guy on the track while other cars pass by. Audio would suggest the driver hit the gas prior to hitting the guy on the track.

        It doesn’t look good for whoever is driving the car. Especially if he is a professional driver. I’ll wait until there’s more information before making my own conclusion but I can clearly see why some people are pi$$ed.

        • jim_m

          Audio is incapable of picking up the engine noise from that distance. What you hear is a car in front of the stands not Stewart’s car( you heard no sounds of the crash right?). People are pissed because they are ignorant.

          I’m not a Stewart fan either. I just want the truth.

          • therealrockstone

            Cool. Then we’ll both wait until the investigation is over to decide. Right?

          • jim_m

            Riiight. Says the guy who starts by saying that it is clear that Stewart deliberately turned to hit Ward. You’re willing to wait as long as they reach the same conclusion you have.

          • therealrockstone

            No. I’ll accept whatever the final verdict is. I suspect many on this thread won’t.
            Why do you care so much? You dating him?

          • LiberalNightmare

            I’m starting to detect a pattern here …

          • therealrockstone

            Funny…. so did I. When I first hit this thread. The defenders of this guy keep reminding me of OJ. I keep hearing Cochran in my head saying “If a track walking fool was hit…then you must acquit…”

          • LiberalNightmare

            OJ? Why do you care so much? You blowing him?

          • therealrockstone

            Naw. He’s in jail in Nevada. Your dad’s looking after him.

          • LiberalNightmare

            Why do you care about my dad? you dating him?

          • therealrockstone

            For a while. Then he left me for the Harlem Globetrotters………

        • LiberalNightmare

          What about the professional driver that climbed out of his car and tried to confront another CAR on the track?

          • therealrockstone

            If you and I come upon an idiot standing in the middle of the road we can’t gun it and aim for him. We can’t get closer and try to scare him. It’s not open season. If we can avoid him safely…we have to.

            Look it…. We’re just trying to find out what happened.
            What? Is this guy on your favorite cereal box? Relax….

          • LiberalNightmare

            Hey, Im just pointing out the fact that BOTH parties had a professional responsibility in this incident.

            Not sure how my breakfast cereal got involved.

    • Kenneth Duane Poole

      If the video is watched closely, after the other drivers “somehow avoided Ward” Ward then walked much further into the center of the track which would make avoiding him considerably harder; especially considering the fact that they were not far from a turn at that point. Also people may say that while it being a caution, dodging him would have been quite easy, but at the same time it is one of the few times the drivers guard may have been down as he wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary to be in the track; especially another person.

  • Andrea

    This was not an accident you can clearly see at the begininng of the video number 14 (Tony Stewart) runs him off and causes number 13 (Kevin Ward Jr.) to run off into the wall and the kid was pissed and waited for him to come around and pointed at him obviously angry and Tony clearly went out of his way to hit him, causing this young boys life. Yes he should get vehicular manslaughter. Better yet MURDER!! Sick f#*%.

    • Kenneth Duane Poole

      If the video is watched scene by scene it is clear that before the turn Tony was ahead of Ward, Ward tried passing him on the outside and attempted holding the spot even though he didn’t pass enough of Stewart’s car to have rights to that position. Compare the placement of both cars in a freeze frame just before he crashed. At the time he crashed Ward’s Left Front tire was basically lined up with Stewart’s Right Rear tire or maybe slightly ahead. That is not enough of an overtaking in position to claim that position and Stewart may not have noticed he was even still there at that point. If you can’t gain enough ground to get your front tire to at least the midway point of the vehicle you are passing you may not even be noticed and certainly shouldn’t try to hold that position when the other car was in the process of returning to the higher side of the track to maintain his line going into the next turn. Also, in no way is it evident that he “Went out of his way to hit him” Ward continued to go further into the center of the track after the previous car went by which is clearly obvious based on his location when hit. I am saddened by the loss of a young Driver, but in no way do I believe it was intentional on Stewart’s behalf.

  • LiberalNightmare
    • jim_m

      Not his decision???????

      Who the F is President then? Does he not realize that as C in C that he is in charge and that any decision, or failure to make a decision, ultimately lies at his discretion?

      Typical leftist. He doesn’t want to take any responsibility for his actions and seeks to blame his failures on someone else.

  • CPMom

    He should be charged and banned from racing. First of all, there was a caution on the track, so the cars should not of been going their regular speed. Next, Stewart has been out of his car many times with his hot head. Oh yeah, he even likes to throw helmets at cars while they are driving on the track. Last year, at the same track, Stewart admitted to causing a 15 car accident which sent 2 to the hospital, almost paralyzing one girl. Btw, Ward was also in this accident.

    Stewart should have enough experience behind him that this “accident” would be avoidable. I do not believe for a minute it is some crazy coincidence that he “accidently” hit someone on a cautioned track, that was pointing a finger at him. His history suggest he is just not that restrained.

    • jim_m

      Yeah, because fights in NASCAR are almost unheard of and no one EVER has any conflicts.

      People should get a grip. This was an unfortunate accident. And yes, he had slowed down because if he had still been traveling at speed he would have been drifting around the corner and not driving as he was.

      Fights and confrontations are part of NASCAR and have been for years. And NASCAR is not alone in that. F1 has had the same history. These people are highly competitive and emotions run high. Kevin Ward is one of those people. He got out of his car and walked into traffic. He made a horrible mistake.

      I rather suspect that there may be a rule that comes out of this that bars drivers from leaving their cars on the track until the emergency crews arrive.

    • westcoastwiser

      If you knew how these cars are built and how the drive-train operates, your opinion might change.

  • Jae

    As a dedicated NASCAR fan from before it went hell-bent commercial, when Stewart drove for Home Depot I believed that it was unwise to have what is ostensibly a DIY/family-type organization – selling residential home products and Christmas trees, etc. – sponsor an individual with such a propensity for violence. It was only a matter of time that his anger would explode into something well beyond the random incident. Home Depot’s sponsorship is a thing of the past, but his temper isn’t. True, I was not there and the video is not proof-positive of anything. But, even the most reasonably-minded person who has followed his career knows that Stewart is predisposed to aggression. His life and his past history speaks to this with plenty of documented evidence. It is hard to imagine that he didn’t try to make a point on that track, regardless of intention. The very lack of maturity which causes him to lose his cool is the same lack of maturity which prevents him from seeing around corners to anticipate the damage his actions might cause. He is still a teenager at heart – nothing is going to happen (to me) and I can do what I want, no matter what the outcomes might be. “I know better. Consequences be damned”. Sure, the deceased was ill-advised in his actions, but Tony should be held to a higher standard than those less than half his age with even less experience. Individuals like Stewart – professional drivers from other classes – should not be on the same track with these younger drivers who are cutting their teeth. A driver can’t be required to stay in a car after a crash – it could have an oil or fuel leak which could cause it to burst into flame or explode. Tony Stewart is an immature bully wherever he goes. Despite his investments in the division, he, as with all accomplished drivers of his status, should be left on the side lines. Let the next generation of drivers compete on a level playing field. Let’s hope for some positive change.

  • Chris

    There’s two “copies” of the video out there. One shows a bit more of Stewart’s car, and he GUNS the accel pedal, fishtails right, as the car is meant to do, and hits the kid with the right rear. I feel he was most likely trying to brush him with some mud, but it backfired. Manslaughter is the appropriate charge.

  • Sherbal H

    Of course he should be charged; HE KILLED A KID

  • JWH

    Here’s some open thread fodder:

    My own opinion: Yes, this woman’s business should be regulated. She runs a floating food truck, and there are perfectly valid health reasons to require sanitation, hygiene, etc., etc. But at the same time … she only operates this business from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Instead of hitting her with a cease and desist order, why not let her continue to operate with the understanding that she will be bring her boat into compliance (with altered regulations, if necessary) in the offseason?

  • CoreyT.

    He should be charged. He purposely revved his engine so the back end would hit Ward. When they comment that he was ‘visibly shaken’ and implying that he didn’t expect to hurt anyone that’s a crock. Hell yeah he was ‘visibly shaken’ because he just realized that his anger had finally done the worst and he had actually killed someone and he was afraid for himself only!!!! Fry him!

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