The investigation into the death of Kevin Ward Jr. is finally complete.
On August 9th of last month, I was getting ready to go to bed when social media notifications started blowing up my phone. Plastered across my screen ... 'Stewart runs over fellow racer,' 'Driver airlifted to hospital after freak accident,' 'no reports regarding driver's condition following collision with Tony Stewart.'
Spiraling out of control
Updates were scarce and we drowned in a sea of speculation. The truth, however, was the hardest thing to swallow. A human being was dead; his life lost in such an incomprehensible and senseless way. Blame was thrown in every direction and battle lines were drawn by people who had no business commenting on the situation in the first place. While Tony sat in his Indianapolis home trying to come to grips with what had taken place, he was being described as both a victim and a villian by people whom he's never even met, and probably never will.
The unmitigated hatred spewed by many was augmented by outsiders who picked up the story and added their own fabricated facts to it ... Also confusing Sprint Cars with Sprint Cup on more than one occasion. The firestorm raged on and spiraled completely out of control. It was incredibly disheartening and somewhat infuriating to watch it all unfold.
This deal got so big, it seemed the fundamental reasoning behind the superfluous debate was lost in the translation. Few seemed to recognize the fact that these were real people we were targeting with the hate. A family lost their son and a good-hearted man was put into a very dark place. A large contingent of people out there just decided to go down a path of blind and illogical rage, the same kind of rage that cost Kevin Ward Jr. his life. In doing so, they were having a pernicious influence on both parties involved.
Now we have the facts
The facts have been laid out in front of us now and yet, the fighting continues. Tony Stewart has been declared innocent and rightfully so, while the victim was revealed to have been impaired by marijuana. The Ward family, disappointed with the outcome and now seeking compensation for their loss, will most likely bring a wrongful death lawsuit against Tony Stewart.
I could easily go on for pages, but I'd rather not. What I will say is that this tragedy has rattled the motorsports community to the core, and has yielded no victors, only a lot of losers. Nobody comes out on top in this ... Nobody.
To the commenters and the Ward family...
This is a time for healing, not for more gratuitous hate. I'm directing this statement towards the dozens of people posting crude and inconsiderate comments on this site, comments that I'm being forced to constantly delete. I also want to send a message to the Ward family. Tony Stewart would have done anything to help them get back on their feet and has wanted to talk with them, but they've decided to handle this differently, which is very unfortunate. I'll leave it at that.
This is just the second and will be the final opinion piece I write regarding this tragedy. My first story shared the same featured photo and it was plea for this to end. Well, now it is over (or at least the criminal investigation is) and I'm thankful for that. I don't feel the need to analyze what happened because that's not my place, nor my expertise.
I'm just a race fan ... I didn't sign up to write about investigations and trials.
Just let it be
I don't know why, but there was a part of me that erroneously believed, no, more like naively hoped people would accept the facts that have been handed to them, but many decided to take this war of words and run with it, trying to drag it out for as long as possible in some kind of misguided attempt to prove a point that was never even there.
Instead of taking sides and passing judgement, please, let it be. It's over. Just allow it to end. Stop persecuting a man and a deceased kid you don't even know. Instead, focus your energy on praying for the family of Kevin Ward Jr. as they deal with this inconceivable loss and Tony Stewart as he has to carry this burden for the rest of his life.
Wise men speak when they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato