Ryan Dunn was “just starting to break out on his own. Everyone was really proud of him.” That’s how Philadelphia morning talk show host Preston Elliot, who co-hosts 93.3 WMMR’s The Preston and Steve Show – which Dunn and his Jackass cohorts, many of whom hail from the region, often visited – is reflecting on the late star. (The 34-year-old died early in the early hours of Monday morning when he crashed his Porsche in West Goshen, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. An unidentified passenger was also killed in the accident, which is still in preliminary investigation, but the West Goshen Police Department released a statement that said “excessive speed may have been a contributing factor.”)
The news of Dunn’s passing was first broken on the rock station’s morning program – Elliot reveals to EW that early Monday morning, the station became flooded with emails and texts from people in the area who had gotten word of Dunn’s death. (Elliott confirmed the news with April Margera, the mother of Dunn’s Jackass co-star Bam Margera.) And, tragically, there’s plenty of reason to mourn: Not only was Dunn something of a local hero from his early skateboarding days who was always willing to help out if the station was in a pinch for a celebrity guest spot (“I don’t think he ever said no,” Elliott tells EW), but Dunn was also experiencing some recent professional success, nabbing small roles in indie films and co-hosting a new series on G4 called Proving Ground. But now, the rest of Ground – a show which tested out wild video game and movie stunts in the real world, a perfect fit for the always-game Dunn – may not see the light of day.
G4 tells EW that as of June 20, “the show is off the schedule … until we discuss next steps.” (It premiered last week.) The network is also lamenting Dunn’s loss. Said G4 of the Proving Ground co-host in a statement: “All of us at G4 are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic news that Ryan Dunn has passed away. Ryan’s comedic wit and signature no-holds-barred approach made him an incredible talent and his work as host of G4’s Proving Ground was flawless. Ryan will be missed dearly by his legion of fans and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Some members of the Jackass community have also released tributes to the surprisingly soft-spoken Dunn, who won fans for such memorable Jackass moments as the “Master Blaster”, seen in the Jackass 3D promos. Johnny Knoxville took to his Twitter, posting an old picture of Dunn and writing, “Today I lost a my brother Ryan Dunn. My heart goes out to his family and his beloved Angie. RIP Ryan, I love you buddy.” MTV released a statement which read, “We are devastated by the tragic loss of Ryan Dunn — a beloved member of the MTV family for more than a decade, He made us all laugh and had the tireless enthusiastic approach to life of your favorite middle school friend. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Ryan’s family and friends. The Jackass brotherhood will never be the same.”
And plenty of stars took to their Twitter pages on Monday afternoon to express their sadness over Dunn’s death, including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia actor Glenn Howerton, who posted, “I’ll miss you, Dunn. You were the absolute best, pal. I am heart broken right now. Rest in Peace. Love & prayers to your family” and singer Rob Thomas, who wrote, “so sad to hear about ryan dunn. r.i.p. he had a lot of fun while he was alive.” Fellow daredevil Carey Hart tweeted, “RIP ryan dunn. You were an amazing guy and you were cut way to short. Enjoyed the times we had. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”