Thursday, September 3, 2015

Forgotten victim of 'Jackass' crash mourned

On dozens of Facebook pages, hundreds of thousands of fans have paid respects to Ryan Dunn, an MTV star who died in a fiery car crash on Monday. Seldom mentioned is the fact that the crash also killed Dunn's friend, Zachary D. Hartwell.

Forgotten victim of 'Jackass' crash mourned


On dozens of Facebook pages, hundreds of thousands of fans have paid respects to Ryan Dunn, an MTV star who died in a fiery car crash on Monday. Until yesterday, only a single page existed for the other victim: Dunn's friend, Zachary D. Hartwell, 30, who had to be identified in parentheses as "Dunn's passenger."

A handful of postings mentioned the inequity of the online condolences, and new pages with both victims' names are starting to appear. One page - "R.I.P. Ryan Dunn AND Your friend" - says Hartwell's death "is JUST as sad and important."

Obituary information says Hartwell served in the U.S. Navy as a gunner's mate during Operation Enduring Freedom. Born in Lima, Delaware County, he was the son of George H. Hartwell and Erma Christman Hartwell. Eight months ago, he married Rachel Peazzoni Hartwell, the obituary said.

The pair lived in a charming, stone home outside West Chester that was converted into apartments. Rachel Hartwell's Facebook page says she graduated from Coatesville Area High School in 1999 and attended West Chester University and then Johns Hopkins University for a graduate degree in environmental science. Friends said that Zachary Hartwell grew up in the Coatesville area and that he and Peazzoni were high-school sweethearts.  

"He was known by all as having a vivid sense of humor with an ability to bring light to any situation," the obituary said.   

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About this blog
Aubrey Whelan covers Chester County for the Inquirer. A native of a Philadelphia suburb so small it doesn't have a zip code, she grew up reading the Inquirer and was thrilled to take a job there in fall 2012. Previously, she covered crime, courts and D.C.'s Occupy movement for the Washington Examiner. Aubrey graduated from Penn State in 2011, where she worked for the award-winning campus newspaper and majored in journalism and French. Contact her at 215-495-5855 or You can also follow her on Twitter at

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