Family of Kevin Ward Jr. thanks community for support

Published 08/10 2014 01:17PM

Updated 08/11 2014 12:40AM

Port Leyden (WSYR-TV) - The house that Kevin Ward called home was surrounded on Sunday afternoon, with cars stretching down the street. Several people gathered in the front yard.

Inside, his close friends and family are still absorbing the shock of watching Ward's final race on Saturday evening.

"We appreciate the prayers and support we are receiving from the community, but we need time to grieve and wrap our heads around all of this," said one of many people gathered at the home.

Robert and Vicki Shue lives just next door to the Ward family. Robert says just thinking about the accident, gives him the chills.

"I kept flipping through the channels, and I got to ESPN, and I saw 'Kevin Ward Jr.' on the bottom of the screen. Wow, it really hit me hard," said Robert Shue.

Robert and Vicki's son grew up with Kevin, and they graduated from South Lewis High School together.

"He's just a good kid, a hard worker, he loved doing what he did, and he loved his family," said Vicki Shue.

As we spoke with neighbors, everyone seemed to have a memory about Kevin. Friends say they don't want to focus on how he died -- they want to remember how he lived.

"We dated in 4th and 5th grade because we snowboarded together and we rode the ski lift together. It was really cute," said Stephanie Redmond, went to high school with Kevin Ward Jr. "You have to think about the good things because its all you have left to hold onto."

According to the Ontario County Sheriff's Office, Ward's parents were at the race track in Canandaigua, where the 20-year old driver was struck by NASCAR star Tony Stewart.

According to his racing website, Ward began racing Go Kart's at the age of four. He traveled the racing circuit for years, transitioning to Empire Super Sprints five seasons ago.

The website states: "In 1998, at the age of four, Kevin was old enough to race his go-kart at some of the local tracks. He got second place his first race and went on to win 6 track championships and roughly 250 feature wins in only 8 years of Go Kart racing."

Friends say he came from a family of devoted race fans.

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