Almost immediately after news broke of Dunn’s crash that took his and Hartwell’s life, Roger Ebert took to Twitter. The venerable film critic had his jaw removed earlier this year due to cancer and struggled to speak. However, he quickly adapted to Twitter and was very active on the platform until his own death in 2013.
Ebert tweeted, “Friends don’t let Jackasses drink and drive.” The statement was not well received by many. Some felt it was inherently cruel, while others argued it was too early for criticism or pun. Bam Margera was particularly furious because it had not yet been 100% verified that alcohol played a role in the crash. Dunn’s friend hit back at Ebert, tweeting, “I just lost my best friend, I cried hysterically for a whole day and a piece of [expletive] Roger Ebert has the nerve to put in his 2 cents.”
Two days after Dunn and Hartwell’s death and his initial tweet, Ebert wrote a follow-up post on his personal blog. While he apologized for the timing and explained that he didn’t mean to be cruel, he stopped short of offering a full apology. He called his own tweet “unseemly,” but reverted to the idea that Dunn’s behavior was unquestionably wrong and deserved condemnation. However, as he reflexively tweeted without all the information, Ebert admitted he made the wrong choice.