Roger Ebert Responds to Outrage Over Comments About Ryan Dunn's Death
By Bryan Lynn
Roger Ebert responded Tuesday to criticism that his earlier Twitter comments about the death of 'Jackass' star Ryan Dunn were insensitive.
Dunn, 34, was killed in a car accident early Monday morning in West Goshen Township, PA along with his passenger in the car, Zachary Hartwell, 30. The 2007 Porsche 911 Dunn was driving hit a tree and burst into flames.
In a tweet responding to news of the deadly crash, Roger Ebert insinuated that the daredevil's death was the result of drunk driving, causing an uproar among Dunn's fans. "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive," Ebert's tweet read. Later on Monday Ebert defended his statement, saying, "He drank, he drove, 2 people died."
Police issued a press release stating that a preliminary investigation indicated that "speed may have been a contributing factor to the accident," but alcohol was not mentioned as a possible cause. Dunn did tweet a picture of himself drinking with friends just before the accident.
Writing on his blog Tuesday, the well-known film critic offers his sympathy to the friends of family of Dunn and Hartwell: "I also regret that my tweet about the event was considered cruel. It was not intended as cruel. It was intended as true."
He then specifically addresses why he felt his original tweet was appropriate: "I have no way of knowing if Ryan Dunn was drunk at the time of his death. What I knew before posting my tweet was that not long before his death, he posted a photo on Tumbler showing himself drinking with two friends."
Hartwell worked with Dunn as a production assistant on the movie 'Jackass Number Two' and also starred in mutual friend Bam Margera's movie 2009 'Minghags.'
Margera harshly criticized Ebert after his controversial Twitter reaction. "I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterically for a full day and piece of sh** Roger Ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents," Margera said on his own Twitter feed.
Ebert clarifies his position further: "I don't know what happened in this case, and I was probably too quick to tweet. That was unseemly. I do know that nobody has any business driving on a public highway at 110 mph, as some estimated -- or fast enough, anyway, to leave a highway and fly through 40 yards of trees before crashing." He adds, "That is especially true if the driver has had three shots and three beers. Two people were killed. What if the car had crashed into another car?"
Ebert ends with a quote from Margera's mother April, who spoke out in the media about how Ryan liked to drive fast, saying, "He drove too fast and I yelled at him all the time about that." Ebert adds, "She was being Ryan's friend. Friends don't let friends drink and drive."