The deaths of Ryan Dunn and Zachary Hartwell still on his mind…

It’s amazing how one photo (or video) can change your life.

Ask Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, or just about any Hollywood type. Or ask Philly’s own Mayor Michael Nutter whose recent late-night bowling alley antics with a blonde have caused a stir in the city and the news world.

If you asked Rob Snyder, he might say there’s one picture he wishes he never was in. Or maybe not…

Snyder is the guy pictured with former Jackass star Ryan Dunn and pal Zachary Hartwell. On June 20, 2011, both Dunn and Hartwell were killed when the Porsche Dunn was driving slammed into a wooded area on the Route 322 bypass. The picture of the three men was Tweeted that night by Dunn but the hours later in the day featured the photo traveling the globe via cyberspace.

And Snyder told Daily Local News reporter Jeremy Gerrard ( that it’s bittersweet. Yes, he’s happy that he had the photo with two of his pals, but sadness over their untimely deaths.

According to Jeremy’s story, Snyder wasn’t going to fit inside the same cramped sports car as Dunn and Hartwell as they headed home from the bar in the early morning of June, 20, 2011.

“I would have gotten in the car if I wasn’t such a fat ass,” Snyder said in the interview Sunday.

“Instead, Snyder said his goodbyes and got a ride from another friend. His last memory is of them standing around the vehicle singing ‘fat man in a little coat’ — a nod to the Chris Farley comedy ‘Black Sheep’ — as they joked about him not climbing inside the two-seater Porsche,” reads the story.

“About 2:30 a.m. that morning, Dunn was driving on the Route 322 bypass west near Route 100 when his 2007 Porsche went off the road and into a wooded area. Police found the car engulfed in flames with a mangled guardrail and splintered trees in its path.”

Snyder told Jeremy, “I wasn’t good for a while, and it’s still something I think about every single day. And I’m going to think about it the rest of my life.”

I can’t even begin to imagine what Snyder is feeling. That one moment in time – when he laughingly decided he was “too fat” to get into the car – saved his life. However, two of his best friends died soon after. Snyder says he’s leaving West Chester and following his passion for music to Nashville where he plans to develop his career as a country musician.

Snyder recalled many of the pieces of that fateful night. He said the three friends gathered that night to discuss his career and plan a trip from Nashville to Macon, Ga., where Dunn had family. Snyder credits Dunn for encouraging him every step of the way in his career.

“Ryan was always a huge supporter of my music,” Snyder said. “He was always really good at pumping me up.” On the night of the crash, Snyder said, the three were drinking at Barnabys on South High Street, but he said the media’s portrayal of the drinking was heavy-handed.

“The dude bought a Porsche to drive a … Porsche,” Snyder said. “He would have driven that fast during the day.”

Still, Snyder said he hopes some good can come out of this tragedy and others can learn from the mistakes made that night. “The fact is he killed himself and — you know as hard as it is for me to say — killed one of his friends,” Snyder said.

That’s what seems so hard for Dunn’s friends to deal with. While the sadness is there that he passed away, there is some sense of guilt and anger that both he and Hartwell perished in the crash.

Snyder, though, says the next day he actually felt “a peace in the air.”

“There was peace in the air, but like it was really weird,” Snyder said. “I had the deepest conversation I’ve ever had in my life with Zach and Ryan that night, and it was two people who were 100 percent at peace with their lives.”

I guess it’s a good thing for Snyder to have found some peace out of the tragedy. I think it would be tough to deal with. Perhaps it’s the artist in Snyder that allows him to see above it all. Whatever it is, I suppose I am happy for him.


About fromtheeditorchair

I am the editor of the Daily Local News.
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