On Monday afternoon, Shain Gandee, star of MTV's Buckwild — a popular reality series described as the "Jersey Shore of Appalachia" — was found dead at age 21, after an apparent off-road driving accident.
According to The Associated Press, Gandee was found "inside a sport utility vehicle belonging to his family that was found partially submerged in a deep mud pit about a mile from his home near Sissonville." The bodies of two others — his uncle David Gandee, 48, and a friend named Donald Robert Myers, 27 — were also discovered. They had last been seen leaving a bar around 3 a.m. on Sunday, where they said they planned to go driving off-road. A spokesman for the Sissonville Sheriff's Department said there were no signs of foul play.
Gandee was one of the breakout stars of Buckwild. He eschewed most modern technology, including computers and cell phones, and spoke with such a thick accent that his scenes on the series were sometimes subtitled. During an appearance on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last year (watch below), Gandee revealed that his trip to New York for the taping was the first time he had ever left West Virginia. When Fallon commented that mudding "can't be safe," Gandee assured him that it was, pointing to the chain and snorkel he kept in his truck in case he got into trouble.
After news broke of Gandee's death, an MTV spokesperson released this 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 network has shut down production on the popular reality series, which was taping its second season, and it's unclear if the second season will ever air, or if footage of Gandee will be edited out of the series.