'Jackass' star Ryan Dunn killed in Pa. crash
WEST GOSHEN TWP., Pa. - June 21, 2011 (WPVI) -- West Goshen Township police are continuing to investigate an accident that claimed the life of reality TV star Ryan Dunn and one of his friends.
Crowds continued to gather at the scene of Route 322 Monday night, to get an up close look at the debris, charred limbs and tree trunks left behind by the fiery crash that killed "Jackass" star, 34-year-old Ryan Dunn and his friend, 30-year-old Zac Hartwell.
"We didn't really believe it and we wanted to see what was going on," Downingtown resident Ali Behren said.
"I had worked at Frazier Home Depot and he came in all the time and [Ryan] was just the nicest guy, always polite, levelheaded and I think it was just poor judgment on his part," Tiffany Berardi of West Chester, Pa. said.
That's because it appears after a night of drinking at Barnaby's bar in West Chester, Dunn got behind the wheel of his 2007 Porsche.
According to police, he appears to have been traveling at a high rate of speed when he tried to take an exit at around 2:30 a.m. near Pottstown Pike and lost control, went airborne over the guardrail, and collided with a tree. The impact resulted in the vehicle bursting into flames.
"Our officers tried to get to the vehicle, but could not do that and shortly after they pulled back, the gas tank exploded," West Goshen Police Chief Michael Carroll said.
Both Dunn and Hartwell were killed. Investigators say both bodies were burned badly.
The manager at Barnaby's says Dunn and his friends had what he called "a few beers and a few shots," but did not appear to be intoxicated.
Toxicology tests are pending.
According to court documents, Dunn was charged in April 2005 with driving under the influence after crashing his car in West Whiteland Township, about 2 miles north of Monday's crash site. The documents show he successfully completed a program designed for first-time, nonviolent offenders that allows charges to be dismissed after defendants finish the program.
Those who knew him best say Ryan Dunn was a great guy, generous, and kind, but he also had a need for speed and loved fast cars. It was an addiction that scared the woman he called his second mom, April Margera.
"He just loved cars, loved racing cars, and I think he was working on them all the time," April said.
April's son Bam and Ryan Dunn were inseparable buddies. As teenagers, they were part of the skater culture centered at Fairman's in West Chester. They started performing stunts on their skateboards and filming them. That eventually evolved into the "Jackass" phenomenon, where they risked life and limb performing elaborate stunts.
It became a TV and movie juggernaut that catapulted Margera and Dunn to international fame and put West Chester on the map.
"This area, because of the popularity of those guys, gets quite a few of their fans that come through and I'd see [Dunn] at the bars, people would come up to him and ask him for autographs and he never thought twice to do it," Timothy Hewczuk of Fairman's Skateboards said.
April Margera says Ryan and the crew became her second family. She says she worried about them all, but still can't believe Ryan is gone. He was considered the calmest one of the bunch.
"He was the sweetest, nicest, kindest person, would do anything for you. I think everyone in West Chester is going to miss him so much," April said.
The last known pictures of him alive were taken by Thaddeus Kalinoski, who first met Dunn when he was managing a hotel in Baltimore.
"He was very approachable, a really good guy, and there's no other celebrity I've met in my years in the hotel industry that come to close him and I've even told him that, I said, 'you're one of the best,'" Kalinoski said.
In a statement, MTV praised Dunn's humor and enthusiasm and said he would be missed.
"We are devastated by the tragic loss of Ryan Dunn - a beloved member of the MTV family for more than a decade," said Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music/Films Group. "The Jackass brotherhood will never be the same."
According to a biography posted on his website, Dunn was born in Ohio and moved at age 15 to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he met Bam Margera on his first day of high school.
Dunn, Margera, Christopher Raab (known as Raab Himself) and Brandon DiCamillo, under the moniker CKY for "Camp Kill Yourself," started making videos that featured them skateboarding and performing stunts.
Dunn was working as a welder and at a gas station when Johnny Knoxville, a friend of Margera's through the skateboarding circuit, asked the crew to allow their videos to be part of the series "Jackass," which became a hit on MTV and ran from 2000 to 2002.
Best known as a star on reality TV shows 'Jackass', 'Viva La Bam', and 'Homewrecker', Dunn also starred in three 'Jackass' movies and was the host of the show "Proving Ground" on the G4 cable network.
G4 spokesman Dave Welch said "Proving Ground," which premiered June 11 with the second episode slated to air Tuesday, was being pulled for now until the network can discuss the show's future.
Dunn also starred in the yet-to-be-released film "Living Will." The film's website describes Dunn's character as a "party bum slacker (who) returns from the dead as a mischievous and perverted ghost."
Hartwell is credited with being a production assistant on the movie "Jackass Number Two" and also starred in one of Bam's movies.
Friends of Dunn tweeted their thoughts on Twitter.
Steve-O wrote, "I don't know what to say, except I love Ryan Dunn and I'm really going to miss him."
Johnny Knoxville said, "Today I lost my brother Ryan Dunn. My heart goes out to his family and his beloved Angie. RIP Ryan, I love you buddy."
Bam Margera tweeted, "I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterical for a full day."
Margera's mother called all of this a horrific tragedy.
"[Ryan's] girlfriend Angie is in our thoughts and prayers and the Hartwell family, we can't tell you how heartbroken we are," April said.
Action News spoke to Zac Hartwell's mother-in-law earlier Monday night. She called Zac and Ryan two wonderful young men who will sorely be missed.
Autopsies were to be conducted Monday, though it was unclear when the results would be released.
Dunn had just celebrated his 34th birthday on June 11th.
Information provided by The Associated Press was used in this article.
accident, west chester, pennsylvania, chester county, ryan dunn, entertainment
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