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Praise for 'small-town boy' hit by Stewart's car

Funeral Held For Kevin Ward



TURIN, N.Y. (AP) -- They came to grieve and share stories about Kevin Ward Jr., who was born into a racing family and buried with racing flags in his casket.

A high school auditorium overflowed with friends, family and racing enthusiasts Thursday in tribute to the 20-year-old driver, who was hit on a dirt track by a car driven by NASCAR champion Tony Stewart.

With Ward in an open casket piled with orange flowers, his family's team colors, mourners wept and laughed at favorite stories about the boy who began racing not long after he began walking. The 90-minute service was held at the South Lewis Senior High School to accommodate crowds from this tight racing community in central New York.

"Even if he had rough day, he always had a smile," a tearful Dylan Swiernick said of his best friend and car-obsessed buddy. "We were just two small-town boys trying to make it in the big world. He was always working on something. It was unbelievable how smart he was. He never got down on himself when things weren't going his way."

Ward, a 2012 South Lewis graduate, was buried in his nearby hometown of Port Leyden, 55 miles from Syracuse.

"He was an amazing sprint car driver and had a family like no other," cousin Amanda Ward said in a eulogy. "We used to tell him before every race, `Drive it like you stole it.' He never let us down."

Sister Kayla Herring said the orange and white lapel ribbons worn by family and friends were to signify that the team colors would remain bright, even in the darkest times.

A recording of the Dixie Chicks singing "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)" was played at the request of Ward's mother.

After the service, as Ward's casket was taken to the hearse for the short trip to the cemetery, mourners let loose helium balloons in orange, white and black.

Ward died Saturday night at a track 140 miles away in Canandaigua, where Stewart was riding a day before the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen. Stewart did not race at Watkins Glen and said Thursday he won't race this weekend at Michigan.

The accident touched off debates as video of the crash circulated online, with fans questioning whether Stewart, known for his hot temper, tried to send his own message by buzzing Ward, or whether Ward recklessly stepped onto a dark track clad in black.

After a bump from Stewart sent Ward's car spinning into the wall, the young driver climbed out and walked onto the track in his firesuit, gesturing angrily. Stewart's No. 14 car hit him and Ward was thrown through the air as his parents and fans watched in horror.

No charges have been filed, but Ontario County Sheriff's deputies are still investigating.

Ward grew up in a racing family and started racing go-carts at age 4. He moved on to sprint cars and was Empire Super Sprint racing rookie of the year in 2012. He was one of a small, tight group of drivers that traveled to races around New York state and parts of Canada and Pennsylvania.

Racing and working on cars in his father's shop, Westward Painting Co. of Lyons Falls, were his "double love," Ward's father told the Post-Standard of Syracuse this week.

"His goal was to race in the World of Outlaws," the top level for sprint cars, he said.

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p1943ship August 14 2014 at 10:20 PM

This is a very sad situation . A bright young man lost his life and a great driver is scared for life . Some of you are placing blame on Stewart . Like him or hate him . the accident was not Stewart's fault. Kevin in a fit of rage walked into the side of Tony's car. If you say or think it happened any other way you are wrong .

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6 replies
mangohombre August 14 2014 at 11:54 PM

There's a second video showing Stewart turning AWAY from Ward. Then Ward jumps up and grabs Stewart's wing causing the car to turn to the left. Which is what so many people are saying is Stewart turning on purpose to hit Ward. NOT TRUE. Ward was hanging on and when the car turned, his feet that were dragging the dirt were now inline with the rear tire and he was pulled under. In the video you can see one arm release then the other. Then the impact with the rear wheel and Stewart's car jerking to the right again. Also, with that wing all that Stewart could see of the kid was from the knees down when Ward go close enough. Ward was coming down the track bending down to maintain eye contact with Stewart under the wing. He had to keep coming closer and closer to the car to make sure Stewart could see him. At a certain point you just can't see someone outside your sprint car. What did Ward have to be mad about anyway? He got passed and he stayed in the gas when he should have conceeded.

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2 replies
mangohombre mangohombre August 14 2014 at 11:55 PM

Oooops, I meant RIGHT in the 5th line.

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1 reply
paulie mangohombre August 15 2014 at 1:57 AM

EXACTLY,..! BRAVO,....!
SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T HAVE THERE HEAD STUCK UP THERE HIND QUARTERS,...! EVERYONE WANTS TO BOO HOO HOO FOR THIS KID<... HE SEEMS LIKE HE WAS A WORSE HOT HEAD THAN TONY,.... THIS KID AT THE RIPE OLD AGE OF 20 YEARS OLD SEEMED TO LIKE TO PUT ON THE DRAMA FOR THE CROWD<... MAYBE THIS WHOLE THING CAN GO AWAY AND HIS PARENTS CAN SIT AND THINK ABOUT HOW THEY SHOULD HAVE TAUGHT HIM BETTER SOCIAL SKILLS, INSTEAD OF PLAYING THE BLAME GAME....
EVEN HIS OWN AUNT SAID " HE WAS A PISS HEAD " HIS ROTTEN STINKING ATTITUDE FINISHED HIM IN THE END<....
SOCIETY AND LIFE DOES NOT SUFFER FOOLS,... THIS PUNK WAS NO EXCEPTION,...
THIS KID REALLY CAME OFF AS 1st CLASS MY CRAP DON'T STINK,... TONY STEWART PASSED ME,..! BOY OH BOY I'LL GET HIM,...! YEA OKAY,... BUCKWHEAT,... LATER FOR THIS NONSENSE,.... HAD ENOUGH,....

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rabb mangohombre August 15 2014 at 10:15 AM

stewart has always had a bad attitude in this sport he never grew up he knew better than to speed during the flag so its not rocket science that involuntary manslaughter occured

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cenvalref August 15 2014 at 12:02 AM

There only one person responsible for Kevin's death and that is Kevin himself.

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1 reply
zzyxx cenvalref August 15 2014 at 1:26 AM

yes....you use too much common sense which is very uncommon today. thank you.

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zapdog4 August 15 2014 at 12:06 AM

Sadly, his ego caused his demise. He felt he had to stand up to the Pro driver... possibly for headlines and publicity... he placed himself in a position of danger. Prayers to his family.

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hsena August 14 2014 at 11:54 PM

if he grew up racing then he knew better then leave his car. its sad but he was responsible for his own death

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1 reply
TR by ML Neal... hsena August 15 2014 at 3:06 AM

Yep he is responsible for his own demise. Stay in your car until the emergency crew arrives, if you're not on fire.

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MICHAEL August 14 2014 at 9:27 PM

A dark track, dark suit, a wing on a sprint car, sides on the sprint car, it all adds up to a tragic accident. God Bless
Kevin ward's soul, and his family. I pray for all involved.
What good would charges filed do for anyone. Like I said a tragic accident........

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2 replies
jijjhnsn MICHAEL August 14 2014 at 11:56 PM

Charges filed is for money, this is america.

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rabb MICHAEL August 15 2014 at 10:17 AM

speeding during the flag was not by accident

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1 reply
Carol rabb August 15 2014 at 11:31 AM

Stewart wasn't going any faster than anyone else on the yellow

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mvnup August 15 2014 at 7:58 AM

It is sad what happened but it seems Kevin foolishly put himself in harms way. Everyone seems to worry about Kevin but Tony has to live with the consequences of Kevin’s actions and that has to be hard.

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1 reply
rabb mvnup August 15 2014 at 10:25 AM

did tony have any remorse for attcking logano ? this sport is too dangerous for childish actions nascar needs to be sued for neglect in knowing tony stewart 's immature setlist and not making hiim take anger management classes before he was allowed to race again

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2 replies
Carol rabb August 15 2014 at 11:41 AM

rabb - In case you didn't notice, these were sprint cars, which are not sanctioned by nascar. Also, Stewart wasn't the angry one here, Ward was. What do you think Stewart had to be mad about? A bump that spun the other car, and did nothing to Stewarts car?

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imaviper49 rabb August 15 2014 at 12:19 PM

Excuse me, but Tony went up to talk to Logano and between fairy boy Joey and his crew nothing happened but LOGANO throwing a water bottle girl style at Tony.

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Linda August 14 2014 at 10:01 PM

Ward committed suicide on the track.

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3 replies
jeff August 14 2014 at 9:24 PM

What makes Kevin any differant from Tony? He jumped out of his car to and went onto the track to confront Tony.

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2 replies
johnfairfaxva jeff August 14 2014 at 11:09 PM

That's easy, Tony will run a person over. See the front end of his car turn right. Not the rear slide.

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2 replies
mbat830123 johnfairfaxva August 15 2014 at 12:24 AM

If his front end is turned to the right, that would prove he was trying to miss him. On any car in a slide, on gravel, ice dirt or mud, you turn into the slide to bring the rear end to the left. If the front end was pointing left, it would have brought the rear end to the right, making the rear end go more to the right and he would have spun and that would have put him under the car.
And, Tony wont run over anyone unless their in thei car and the kep trying to block him or pput him in the guard rail. Well,....he used to do that a few years ago. He's more mature now and it's cheaper to wait until after they get out of the cars on pit lane. Then, he might run over them on foot.

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chasesea johnfairfaxva August 15 2014 at 10:00 AM

I don't watch car racing...but when I see a jackass climb out of his car on a racetrack and walk through moving (and speeding) vehicles, pointing his finger at a driver and charging the car at the same time, I doubt it. I suppose you think you could've avoided hitting that arrogant a-hole.

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rabb jeff August 15 2014 at 10:20 AM

yea kevin acted on impulse but stewart speeding during the flag was not an impulse issue no doubt involuntary manslaughter occured and then we also have to look at stewarts attack on logano nascar needs to make a point and ban stewart for life

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1 reply
imaviper49 rabb August 15 2014 at 12:21 PM

Track officials and the police hae both stated clearly moron that Tony was going at the appropriate speed for caution. Get a brain PLEASE !!!!!!

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Avarua57 August 14 2014 at 8:54 PM

Today is a day to mourn Kevin Ward.

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