— Eyewitness News (@wchs8fox11) April 1, 2013
Shain Gandee, one of the stars of MTV’s Buckwild reality show, was found dead this morning along with his uncle David and his friend Donald Robert Myers. He was 21 years old. The exact circumstances of Gandee’s death are unknown, but WVVA reports that “foul play is not suspected.” TMZ reports suggest that Gandee and the others may have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The official cause of death will not be released until an autopsy is done by the West Virginia State Medical Examiner.
MTV released the following statement regarding his death:
We are shocked and saddened by the terrible news about Shain Gandee, and those involved in this tragic incident, we are waiting for more information but at this time, our main concern is for the Gandee family and their friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Shain had a magnetic personality, with a passion for life that touched everyone he met and we will miss him dearly.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. Gandee Was Last Seen Drinking with His Uncle in a Bar
The pair were drinking in Larry’s Bar in Sissonville, West Virginia. He left the bar at around 3 a.m. Sunday, March 31, reports WSAZ, with his uncle David, 48. Shain and his uncle had been missing for 31 hours when they were found.
Gandee tweeted this on Saturday night:
Saturday night!!! Lets get drunk people!!!
— Shain Gandee (@MTVShain) March 31, 2013
He spent the earlier part of Saturday attending his cousin’s general store opening in Crown City, Ohio.
The Marshall Parthenon reported:
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Gandee promoted Gandee Candy, took pictures with excited fans and signed autographs on anything from rocks, to jackets and cell phone cases.
Gandee’s sister, Shalena Callahan, said about her brother’s presence at the event:
It’s weird for me that girls go crazy over him. Shain is Shain, him being here today will bring more fans in and people out to see the store.
Fans apparently came from all over Ohio to see Shain, he told The Parthenon:
I’m here opening a business, I reckon. It’s awesome that people came from Cincinnati to see me. It lets me know people up there are watching the show.
2. A Massive Law-Enforcement Search Was Undertaken
West Virginia State Police along with Kanawha County Sheriff’s officers began searching for the Shain and his uncle on Sunday morning. The two had told bar patrons they were going “four-wheeling” in Shain’s SUV, a 1984 red and white Ford Bronco. Nobody in the bar knew exactly where the two went or in which direction.
A search party found Shain with his uncle and friend inside Gandee’s Bronco early Monday morning. Shain was in the driver’s seat. They were off-road, but the area would be passable by an SUV. WCHS TV reports:
The vehicle and bodies were found by one of Shain Gandee’s friends who was searching the trails and ridges in the area for him and the others. The vehicle sat evenly, but upright, and was partially submerged in deep mud. Mud was covering the lower part of the passenger side door of the vehicle, but the driver’s side of the vehicle was above the mud. The muffler of the vehicle was completely below the surface of the mud.
On Saturday Gandee told a reporter:
There’ll be more mudding [off road driving], hopefully I’ll only go through one truck. It’s hard to tell, though; maybe like four or five.
3. He Had a DUI on His Record
Gandee had previously mentioned on the show that he had a DUI. In the show’s Episode 7, when Shain was saying goodbye to his old SUV, he reminisced:
Well, Ranger, you’ve been fun. A few threesomes, a DUI …
He told Maxim in February:
I had a taillight out when I was driving up the road and this one [cop] got behind me and pulled me over and I kind of told him myself. I thought he pulled me over because he thought I was drinking, but all I had out was a taillight. It cost me $4,000 to get my license back, but I got it back now.
4. Buckwild is MTV’s Latest Controversial Hit
The MTV show has come under criticism for encouraging drinking amongst underage cast members.
In December, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia wrote a letter to MTV demanding the network cancel the show. He wrote:
As a U.S. Senator, I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth, I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud profiting off of ‘Buckwild.’
Instead of showcasing the beauty of our people and our state, you preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior — and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong…
5. He Was Found Dead in His Car Along with Two Other Bodies
Family members and emergency personnel at the scene also said Shain Gandee was found in the vehicle dead along with his uncle, David. The two men had been reported missing for about 31 hours. The name of the other person who was found in the vehicle was unavailable [since named as Donald Robert Myers].
WSAZ reports that the SUV was found in a wooded area, and it’s been difficult for emergency services to get to the bodies. The latest reports say that the car has been transported from the hill where it was discovered. It had to be removed from the area by a bulldozer.
The third deceased man is Donald Robert Myers from Tuppers Creek, West Virginia, where he worked at a Subway sandwich store.
Corporal Brian Humphries, a spokesperson for Kanawha County Sheriff’s office, told Buzzfeed:
Earlier this day after releasing information Shain Gandee was missing, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office received word of a disabled vehicle in a wooded area near Thaxton Hollow, Sissonville, Kanawha County WV,
Deputies and members of the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department used all terrain vehicles to access that vehicle, a 1984 Ford Bronco belonging to the Gandee family. The vehicle was in a muddy area along a worn path. Inside were the bodies of three people.
There was no sign of foul play. The causes of death are still under investigation and will likely be determined following an autopsy by the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
6. He Was a Local Celebrity
According to his MTV profile: “Everyone in Sissonville, W. Va. knows Shain.” Shain was nicknamed “Gandee Candy.” He was his high school’s prom king, and since leaving school worked as both a coal miner in the area and a garbage man.
7. Shain Was an Active Outdoorsman
His profile also states: “He loves mudding, hunting and four-wheeling, but most of all he loves his parents, who live three doors down.”
He claimed on the show to be a man of simple tastes, without “a phone or a Facebook,” but he did maintain a page and a Twitter MySpace account.
John Stevens, executive producer of Buckwild, told Entertainment Weekly that he always had trouble getting in touch with Gandee:
The parents have to go in the woods when I call to find him, Shain is usually out there on his ATV and motorcycle. That’s their idea of fun. That’s what so refreshing … These guys don’t have the crap in daily life that convolutes their lives.
8. Buckwild Was Just Renewed for a Second Season
In February, MTV picked up Buckwild for a second season, which was no surprise given the show’s strong rating. Its debut on January 3, 2013, opened to an audience of 2.49 million viewers and a 1.4 rating. As the season went on, the show maintained a viewership of around 3 million people. It was the No. 1 show in its time slot among 12- to 34-year-olds. There is no word on the immediate future of the show after Gandee’s death.
9. Buckwild is the “Redneck Jersey Shore“
The down-home reality show was also known as “The Jersey Shore of Appalachia.”
10. The Show is Set in Shain’s Hometown
Sissonville, West Virginia, where the show is set, is a small town of about 4,000 people, 10 miles away from the state capital, Charleston. Local politican Kent Carper said of Gandee’s death:
This is a very sad and tragic event. We live in a very small community and this tragedy will affect many lives in Kanawha County. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gandee family. The full details will be released later by the Kanawha County Sheriff Department.