A year after the death of their son during a sprint car race in upstate New York, the Ward family told "Good Morning America" on Friday that Tony Stewart "knew what he was doing."
The parents of Kevin Ward Jr. don't think Tony Stewart intentionally hit their son with his sprint car, but want the NASCAR champion "held accountable" because he lost his temper and could have prevented Ward's death
Kevin and Pamela Ward filed a wrongful lawsuit against Stewart Aug. 7 contending he "could have easily acted reasonably and with prudence to avoid striking" and acted with "wanton, reckless and malicious intent and negligence." The Wards spoke about the civil suit Friday on ABC's Good Morning America, stating they "want justice for our son."
"I don't feel Tony meant to kill my son, but his actions killed my son," Pamela Ward said. "I think he lost his temper.
"We want him held accountable and we feel this is the only action we have left."
Stewart was competing in a sprint car race Aug. 9, 2014, at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park when he and Ward were involved in an incident on the track that disabled Ward's car. The 20-year-old driver then removed himself from his car and began walking down the track gesturing at Stewart, whose car struck Ward with the right rear tire. Ward was pronounced dead 45 minutes later with an autopsy determining he died of massive blunt force trauma.
"I wish (Kevin) wouldn't have gotten out of the car, more than anybody," Pamela Ward said. "But I also acknowledge the fact that if Tony would have stayed low on the track and not have gunned his engine and headed for my son, my son would still be here."
Said Kevin Ward Sr.: "There's no doubt (Stewart) knew what he was doing."
The Wards are seeking an unspecified amount of damages. New York law states an aggrieved party can only attempt to collect for the expected future income Ward would have earned and not for any pain and suffering the family incurred.
An Ontario County grand jury declined to charge Stewart with criminally negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter. In announcing Stewart had been cleared of any wrongdoing last September, District Attorney Michael Tantillo said a toxicology report showed enough marijuana in Ward's system to impair his judgement.
"I do not believe my son was impaired," Pamela Ward said.
Stewart has repeatedly called Ward's death an "accident" and has said the events will forever have a great effect on him. He has not commented on the wrongful death lawsuit publicly.