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‘Jackass’ star’s death is tragic lesson for students

Published: Thursday, June 23, 2011

Updated: Thursday, June 23, 2011 06:06

The man who jumped from balconies, cycled into a field of cactuses and traversed an Iceland waterfall in a barrel died Monday morning in a tragic car crash.

"Jackass" star Ryan Dunn, 34, was driving down a Pennsylvania highway in a Porsche 911 GT3 that veered off the road, went over a guardrail and collided with a tree, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. He might not have been the age of most college students, but many grew up watching the reality TV star.

Dunn was pushing 130 mph or more in a 55 mph zone, according to the West Goshen Township Police. In a toxicology report announced by police Wednesday, he was found to have had a blood-alcohol level of 0.196 at the time of the crash — more than double the legal limit.

Students should reflect on a man who might otherwise still be alive if not for a poor choice. Learning from his mistake would be a fitting tribute to him.

When celebrities pass away, the media takes notice, but, obviously, the poor choices that led to Dunn's end are repeated every day. When college students go out on pub night, bar crawl or slap ping-pong balls against a beer pong table at home, nobody notices. It's when we lose someone that we take notice.

In 2009, the last year for which records are available, 20,085 vehicles were involved in alcohol-related crashes in Florida — 1,004 of those resulted in death, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Through the first five months of 2011 alone, the Tampa Police Department has made 898 DUI arrests.

If one must drink, one should not drive. Locally, the Bull Runner travels to several spots off-campus and helps dissuade drunk driving. Students can also call Student Government's Safe Team for a ride around campus. Walk until you get a hole in your footwear so big that your sneakers start looking like a dress for your feet, but by no means drive.

Dunn wasn't the only one in the car the morning his vehicle crashed. His passenger and friend, Zachary Hartwell, died in the same crash. He was a production assistant for "Jackass Number Two" and an Iraqi war veteran who married less than a year ago, according to the Inquirer.

If you can't separate drinking from driving for the benefit of yourself, then do it for those who depend on you and that you would leave behind.

Mike Velez is a senior majoring in mass communications.

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