When race car driver Kevin Ward Jr. was run over and killed by NASCAR star Tony Stewart on a track in upstate NY Saturday, we saw self-destructive machismo at its worst. Many think Steward didn’t try very hard to stay clear of Ward, mostly because Stewart is frequently a bully. But then again if you watch the video of the incident, Ward is clearly strutting out into the travel lane wagging his finger at passing cars, unhappy that he was forced into the wall. Another tough guy throwing caution to the wind to speak his mind. Men being stupid with tragic consequences.
But I was struck by something else in this news story. Two days after the accident, the coroner announced that an autopsy had been done on Ward’s body and it indicated that he’d been killed by massive blunt trauma. Now there’s a newsflash. The guy was run over by a race car and he’d suffered blunt force trauma. Duh.
It’s sad for my family because several weeks ago my cousin-in-law George Payton in upstate NY was fighting the flu and ended up dead. He’d been to the doctor or ER 4 times and sent home each time. Then he fell over dead. The family requested an autopsy, but the coroner either forgot, or was lazy, or colluded with a malpractice-fearing hospital and didn’t do an autopsy. He wrote on the death certificate that George, a large man in so many ways, had died from complications of obesity. I don’t know why George died, but if they do autopsies on race car drivers who die after being hit by a race car, why in the world wouldn’t they perform an autopsy in the sudden and puzzling death of a 51 year old man who had the flu but was otherwise apparently healthy. Especially when neglect, incompetence or nefarious intent were possible factors.
That’s what autopsies are for. Not to tell us the obvious.