'Buckwild' cast member, two others found dead
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Shain Gandee, star of MTV's show "Buckwild," was one of three people found dead in Sissonville on Monday in an apparent off-road driving accident.
The bodies were found in Gandee's Ford Bronco, which was stuck in the mud more than a mile off Wolf Pen Drive on a trail used for off-road four-wheeling.
Gandee's uncle, David Gandee, 48, was also found in the truck, Kanawha County sheriff's deputies said. The third man, Donald Robert Myers, 27, was identified by the sheriff's department Monday evening.
Shain and David Gandee were last seen at Larry's Bar in Sissonville at about 3 a.m. Sunday, and said they were planning to go four-wheeling in the younger Gandee's Ford Bronco, according to the sheriff's department.
Family members spent most of Sunday searching for the men before calling 911 to report them missing. Kanawha County Sheriff's Cpl. Brian Humphreys said Monday evening that one of Shain Gandee's friends found the truck and the bodies.
"The vehicle sat unevenly, but upright, and was partially submerged in deep mud," Humphreys said in a news release. The driver's side door was free of the mud, he said, but the passenger side door was partially submerged, and the truck's muffler was completely below the surface of the mud.
That might seem to indicate the men were overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning, but a cause of death was not released. Humphreys said the bodies would be taken to the state medical examiner's office.
Shain Gandee was in the driver's seat of the truck, Humphreys said.
The truck was in a mud pit next to a trail that four-wheel-drive vehicles would be able to use, Humphreys said. Rescuers had to use a bulldozer to remove the truck.
State Police were ready to send up a helicopter to search the area minutes before Metro 911 dispatchers reported that the bodies had been found.
Neighbor Swanna Frampton, a longtime friend of the Gandee family, said Monday afternoon that Shain Gandee was a "great kid" who loved to make people laugh.
Frampton also said that, while Gandee was outgoing and adventurous, some of his recklessness may have been fueled by the MTV show itself.
"'Buckwild' made him famous," Frampton said, "and he took risks that I didn't think he would normally take."
Rescue workers in ATVs and trucks drove back and forth down a gravel road that led to Gandee's home and the nearby four-wheeling trail Monday afternoon. At one point, a bulldozer clanked down the road toward the presumed accident site.
Frampton said that her husband, who worked with Shain Gandee's father, was helping with the rescue effort.
"Today's a senseless tragedy," she said.
Humphreys would not talk about the specifics of the rescue effort.
Gandee was the breakout star of "Buckwild" and the core of the show was in many ways built around him and what MTV portrayed as his wild, country-boy ways.
Referred to by some of the other cast members as a "redneck MacGyver," Gandee was the architect of many of the show's stunts and hijinks, including converting a dump truck into a swimming pool.
Gandee, an avid outdoorsman, eschewed modern technology such as cellphones and computers, had nothing to do with social media and loved taking his truck "mudding," hunting and going four-wheeling.
In the first episode of the show, he took most of the cast out in his pickup truck to go mudding. He blew out his truck's motor, and the group had to be rescued by a friend with a tractor.
"We are shocked and saddened by the terrible news about Shain Gandee, and those involved in this tragic incident," MTV said in a press release Monday. "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."
Staff writer Bill Lynch contributed to this report. Reach Zac Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5189.