WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania — In Ryan Dunn’s adopted hometown, the “Jackass” star is remembered, not for his celebrity status, but rather for his ability to remain modest despite living in the limelight.
When MTV News visited Barnaby’s of America in West Chester’s quaint downtown business district — the last place Dunn was seen before his fatal car crash early Monday morning — the bar’s patrons praised the fallen daredevil for never letting fame go to his head.
As TVs showed a Phillies game and a guitarist strummed acoustic renditions of tunes ranging from Arcade Fire to Britney Spears, customers shared their memories of a neighbor who seemingly everyone in town had the chance to meet.
“He was real,” said Sam Ford, who was celebrating her 25th birthday at Barnaby’s. With Dunn’s accident in mind, Ford said she and her boyfriend, Brock Jackson, would be taking a cab home that night. (Police have yet to determine whether alcohol played a role in Dunn’s death.)
Jackson, 31, said he grew up playing Little League with Bam Margera and that Christopher Raab, (a.k.a. “Raab Himself”) an original member of Bam’s CKY stunt crew and the “Jackass” cast, was his best friend growing up. “I can’t even tell you how crushed he is,” Jackson said of Raab.
Jackson said Dunn, who was 34, had “truly kind eyes” and “a heart and a half.” He was especially impressed by the well-known resident’s memory, saying, “He remembered every time he met somebody.”
Around 2:30 a.m. on Monday, Dunn’s 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 flew through 40 yards of trees before hitting one and bursting into flames. West Goshen Police Chief Michael Carroll told Radar Online the Porsche was traveling at about 130 mph in a 55 mph zone when it collided with a guardrail.
Jon Gurten, who grew up watching the “Jackass” crew’s antics, drove about 35 miles from Philadelphia on Tuesday to visit the rural crash site. “Just being local, it was weird how it hit you,” Gurten said of Dunn’s death. “We don’t know the guy, but he seemed like a normal dude doing good for himself.”
Seeing the “long distance of trees that was ripped apart,” Gurten also witnessed a visit from Margera, who placed a candle near the already-replaced guardrail.
Robert Moyer, 32, said at least 50 people were paying their respects when he stopped by the site Monday afternoon as police investigated amid the stench of burning wood and plastic.
Moyer said Dunn shook his hand and “acted like a normal guy” when the two crossed paths at West Chester’s T.G.I. Friday’s. “He wasn’t trying to throw his money down or act like a big shot. He didn’t have a chip on his shoulder,” Moyer recalled. “He said, ’Thanks for the support. Thanks for watching my movies.’ ”
Hailing from the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania, West Chester University student Kait Sabo, 21, attested to the attention Dunn and his cohorts have brought to her new home. “When I say I go to West Chester, they associate it with ’Jackass,’ and I’m from three hours away,” she explained.
“They cheated death a lot,” Sabo said of the show’s stars. “You have to stop pushing your limits and realize death is a possibility.”
Her friend, West Chester native Christy Colflesh, called Dunn a “down-to-earth, totally awesome guy” who never refused a request to pose for photographs with fans.
She said at least 20 cars lined the street near the crash site on Tuesday afternoon, and some visitors collected bits of trees and whatever scraps they could find of the shattered Porsche. “So many people loved him,” she said, referring to the plethora of Ryan Dunn memorial pages that have cropped up on Facebook in the past few days. “People stand up for him.”
The Chester County coroner’s report lists blunt force trauma and thermal trauma as the official causes of death for Dunn and his passenger, 30-year-old Iraq vet Zachary Hartwell , who was credited as a production assistant on “Jackass Number Two.”
Hours before the crash, Dunn tweeted a photo of himself, Hartwell and another man at Barnaby’s. Toxicology results, which might help determine whether alcohol was involved in the crash, will be released in four to six weeks, the coroner’s office said. A Barnaby’s employee told MTV News on Monday afternoon that Dunn “didn’t seem intoxicated.”
Dunn appeared on the MTV shows “Jackass” and “Viva La Bam” and the three “Jackass” big-screen adaptations. He was the star of his own short-lived MTV show, “Homewrecker,” and co-hosted the brand-new G4 show “Proving Ground,” which has been pulled off the network’s schedule.
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