Yesterday morning we learned the sad news that Jackass star Ryan Dunn and a passenger were killed in an early morning car accident in Pennsylvania. The last photos of Dunn, posted himself online, showed him partying with friends at a bar while drinking alcohol just hours before the accident. As a result, film critic Roger Ebert tweeted the message “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive”. An enraged Bam Margera, who is a close friend of Dunn‘s, blasted Ebert for his comment … resulting in a public feud which, IMHO, just adds insult to the already terribly injury of Ryan‘s death. Additionally, the passenger who was also killed in the accident has been identified as one of the friends that Ryan was partying with at the bar before the accident took place.
Hours after Jackass star Ryan Dunn and another passenger were killed in an early morning car accident in eastern Pennsylvania yesterday, film critic and habitual tweeter Roger Ebert posted the news of his passing, with a link to the local NBC News report. Moments later, he followed with, “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” Though the West Goshen Police Department’s accident report made no mention of alcohol as a cause of the accident, Dunn had posted a photo on his own Twitter account just hours before the crash that showed him and two friends drinking at a local bar. Though the manager of the bar told CNN, “He didn’t seem to be intoxicated at the time he left,” there’s no denying that Dunn was drinking and driving. Still, Ebert’s tweet, which used Dunn’s show’s title as a pejorative, rubbed many the wrong way. A few hours later, Dunn’s Jackass collaborator Bam Margera, tweeted “I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterical for a full day and piece of shit roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents… About a jackass drunk driving and his is one, fuck you! Millions of people are crying right now, shut your fat fucking mouth!”
Ugh. On the one hand, I can absolutely understand Bam‘s reaction to Ebert‘s comments. The raw emotion he must be feeling at his friend’s death is prolly still overwhelming … but, I too can understand Ebert’s comment. Drunk driving is among the most heinous crimes because they can effect completely innocent people who just happen to be on the road at the same time as drunk drivers. Altho police have not yet released the cause of the accident, it seems very likely that alcohol was a factor in the accident. New photos of Dunn drinking with friends at a bar shortly before the accident took place have come to light:
If we accept for the moment that drunk driving (coupled with excessive driving speed) was the cause of the accident, then we must accept that the core of what Roger Ebert was saying is true. Dunn‘s friend Zachary Hartwell wasn’t driving and, yet, he is also dead because of this accident. Hartwell‘s identity has been confirmed as the passenger of Ryan Dunn‘s fatal car crash:
Officials have identified the passenger who was killed in “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn’s fatal crash as 30-year-old Zachary Hartwell … a friend who had been hanging with Dunn at a Philly-area bar earlier in the night. Cops say both Dunn and Hartwell (pictured above right) both died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash around 2:38 AM Monday morning. Sources who were at the bar with the two men tell us Dunn had intended to drop Hartwell off at his home … and then Dunn planned to hang out with another friend after that. Hartwell is credited as a production assistant on the “Jackass 2″ movie and recently had a small role in the Bam Margera-directed 2009 movie “Minghags.”
For Margera and the rest of Ryan Dunn‘s family and friends, yes … Roger Ebert‘s comments are way too soon. BUT as a cautionary tale for others, I think they are valid and important. This is what comes of drunk driving. It happens every day, all over the world. Family members and friends are killed in drunk driving accidents every single day. If anything good can come from tragedy like this, my hope is that others will learn that drunk driving is not worth the risk to one’s life and the life of others.