Shain Gandee, one of the stars of the MTV cable reality series "Buckwild," has died. He was 21.
The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department confirmed to MTV News that Gandee's body was discovered in a vehicle along with two others near Sissonville, West Virginia, on Monday morning. Gandee had been reported missing over the weekend.
According to reports, he was last seen with his uncle David Gandee, 48, around 3 a.m. Sunday morning. Family members told The Associated Press that the men had been planning on going off-roading, but did not say where.
The bodies were discovered inside a 1984 Ford Bronco that was stuck in a mud pit with its muffler below the surface, authorities said Monday. No foul play is suspected.
According to the AP, authorities said the cause of the deaths was still under investigation and they refused to speculate on what happened. If the muffler was submerged and the engine kept running, it's possible the cabin of the vehicle could have filled with fatal carbon monoxide from the exhaust.
Police identified a second body inside the vehicle as David Gandee's, while a third victim remains unidentified.
"It's a very sad day for this county," Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said to MTV. "This is a small place and just about everyone in this community knows everybody."
A spokesperson for the network said in a statement: "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."
The reality series "Buckwild" followed a group of West Virginia teens and twenty-somethings partying it up down-South style. The show drew criticism from many corners due to the onscreen behavior of the cast. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia even wrote a letter to MTV's president in which he called the show a “travesty.”
In the wake of Shain's death, production on the show's second season has been suspended, a network spokesperson told NBC's The Clicker.
In January, Gandee appeared with his "Buckwild" co-star Shae Bradley to defend their then-new show from critics who feared their on-screen antics would reinforce negative stereotypes about West Virginians.
The news came as a shock to the "Buckwild" cast, with many of them taking to social media outlets such as Twitter to reflect on their loss.
Shae Bradley tweeted: "Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat. Just going through the motions. Please pray for Shains close friends and family."
"Rest high on that mountain Shain," wrote Michael "Buckwild" Burford. "I love you brother and miss you terribly already all I can think about is growin up thaxton holler together."
"Rip Shain Gandee," added co-star Ashley Whitt. "You are an angel, I know you will watch over me."