Tragic Details From Ryan Dunn's Autopsy Report

Skater and stuntman Ryan Dunn was one of the original members of the "Jackass" stunt crew that first made waves on MTV over the course of three seasons of wreckless pranks and stunts. Like his "Jackass" crewmates, Ryan Dunn stuck with the team as they broke into Hollywood, with a series of high-grossing movies starting with "Jackass: The Movie" in 2002. Later, he fronted his own show, "Homewrecker," a revenge-based reality TV show in which Dunn and a group of helpers redecorate the homes of perceived wrongdoers in offensive ways.

To the surprise of almost everyone who's ever watched it, the "Jackass" franchise was still active as recently as 2022, with the release of the movie "Jackass Forever" and "Jackass 4.5." But Dunn wasn't able to bask in the unexpected longevity of what he helped to create. At around 2:30 a.m., on Monday, June 20, 2011, the 34-year-old was killed in a high-speed car crash along with his friend and passenger, 30-year-old "Jackass" production assistant Zachary Hartwell. The coroner's report made for grim reading, with the impact of the crash reportedly so severe that it listed two potential causes of death for both men.

In 2012, court documents published by TMZ revealed that Hartwell's family were suing Dunn's estate, holding him responsible for the fatal crash. They also sued Barnaby's, the pub at which the two had been served alcohol before leaving in Dunn's Porche. The result of their claim is unknown, though police did confirm that Barnaby's would not be receiving any police charges as footage of Dunn taken at the establishment showed that he appeared to be sober, per the Associated Press.

A gruesome death

As reported by NBC Philadelphia, Jackass star Ryan Dunn had been driving his sports car down Route 322 in West Goshen, Philadelphia, when he lost control of the vehicle. His car was a powerful 2007 Porsche 911 GT3, which reportedly crashed through a guardrail and flew through the air in a nearby forest. The soaring vehicle then collided head-on with a tree and exploded. "Upon arrival, police located one vehicle off the road and in the woods that was fully engulfed in flames," said a police report.

The coroner's report was published within days of the remains being recovered from the crash site, with Chester County coroner's office outlining two causes of death for the two men: blunt force trauma and thermal trauma. A 2023 article published by the National Library of Medicine claims that blunt-force trauma is the leading cause of death in people under 35, with vehicle collisions being the primary cause of such injuries through other forceful impacts, such as in fall, or being struck by a blunt object. Such injuries differ from penetrative trauma, in which a sharp object pierces the skin. Nevertheless, blunt force trauma can result in lacerations to the flesh, and devastating damage to the skeleton in the form of fractures, and injury to the internal organs.

Thermal trauma describes injuries resulting from exposure to intense heat. Horrifically, its inclusion in the coroner's report means that the coroner could not rule out that it was the explosion and flames of the wreckage that proved fatal to the Dunn and Zachary Hartwell.

Dunn was drunk and speeding

While the coroner's report was released days after the tragic deaths of Ryan Dunn and Zachary Hartwell and widely circulated among the world's media outlets, the men's families, friends, and fans were forced to wait a while longer for the full details of the toxicology report. Following the crash, TMZ had dug up photographs of the two men drinking in Barnaby's, a pub in West Chester, Pennsylvania that were posted online just hours before their deaths. According to the Los Angeles Times, the toxicology report confirmed that Dunn was drunk behind the wheel, with a blood alcohol level of 0.196, more than double the legal limit in Pennsylvania of 0.08.

As noted in a contemporary new report by My Fox Philly for a time it was believed that Dunn had imbibed two beers and six shots, which had been served to him at the bar, before getting behind the wheel. This would have brought his blood alcohol level to 0.10, significantly less than the toxicology report suggested. However, it later emerged that the "Jackass" star had also been given three additional drinks by fans. Toxicology reports found no evidence of illicit drugs in Dunn's system. As several outlets later reported, Dunn had previously been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in 2005. 

A police press release obtained by NBC Philadelphia showed investigators claimed the speed of Dunn's driving "may have been a contributing factor to the accident," with news outlets reporting that the Porche was traveling over 100mph on a route with a speed limit of 55mph.