Film critic Roger Ebert wrote the following explanation for his comments about Ryan Dunn in his column in the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper:
To begin with, I offer my sympathy to Ryan Dunn's family and friends, and to those of Zachary Hartwell, who also died in the crash. I mean that sincerely. It is tragic to lose a loved one. I also regret that my tweet about the event was considered cruel. It was not intended as cruel. It was intended as true.
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. I tweeted:
Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive
What did I mean by that? I meant exactly what I wrote. I wasn't calling Ryan Dunn a jackass. In Twitter shorthand, I was referring to his association with Jackass. I thought that was clear. I note that Bam Margera uses the word jackass in the same way in his tweet.
The story I read was on the site of NBC Philadelphia, which wrote:
The one-car accident happened on Route 322 around 2:30 a.m., according to Officer Geiger with West Goshen police. The 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 shot through about 40 yards of trees before it hit the last one and exploded into flames, according to police. The police press release reads, 'Preliminary investigation revealed that speed may have been a contributing factor to the accident'.
The story also reported: Dunn's passenger, 30-year-old Zachary Hartwell of West Chester, Pa., was also killed. Hartwell worked as a production assistant on the movie Jackass Number Two and starred in Bam Margera's movie Minghags. Hartwell, who was 30, was newly married.
In stories posted Tuesday morning, it was written that Ryan Dunn reportedly drank three light beers and three shots before he drove away from Barnaby's in West Chester at around closing time. No one said if he had been drinking earlier.
In a touching interview with the NBC station, Bam Margera's mother, April, said Dunn was a fast driver and that she told him to slow down every day following a bad accident he was involved in more than a decade ago. He drove too fast and I yelled at him all the time about that, she said. In another story, it was indicated that DUI was involved in the earlier crash.
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. 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?
After I posted my first tweet, Perez Hilton posted an item headlined, Roger Ebert Responds Insensitively To Ryan Dunn's Death. I read the comments under his item and noted that almost all of them supported me. I tweeted:
Perez Hilton’s readers agree with me and not with Perz about my tweet on Ryan Dunn. He drank, he drove, 2 people died.
This second tweet was widely interpreted on many web sites as me refusing to apologize. Apologize to who? Perez Hilton?
Out of this the sane voice April Margera emerges: He drove too fast and I yelled at him all the time about that.
She was being Ryan's friend.
Friends don't let friends drink and drive.