The star of MTV’s controversial reality show Buckwild was found dead in a car in West Virginia after he reportedly went off-roading with a family member, EW has confirmed.
The body of Shain Gandee, 21, was found in his truck with two others in Kanawha County today. Earlier, authorities had issued a missing persons report for Gandee, and his uncle, David Gandee, 48. The duo was last seen at a Sissonville bar early Sunday, where they said they planned to go four-wheeling. Reports say the family searched for the men Sunday before calling 911.
Early Monday morning, Buckwild co-star Cara Parrish tweeted, “It sure is hard to find someone when they take off if they don’t believe in cell phones,” and added the hashtag “#I’mGoingToPlantAGPSInShain.”
Cause of death is unknown. MTV, which has suspended production on the second season, released this statement: “We are shocked and saddened by the terrible news about Shain Gandee, and those involved in this tragic incident,” according to an MTV statement. “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.”
Last month, MTV announced that it ordered a second season of Buckwild, which focuses on Gandee and eight other 20-somethings who live in the small town of Sissonville. Though the show generated negative headlines early on — a West Virginia senator claimed that the show “plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes” — it averaged 3 million viewers in Jersey Shore‘s old Thursdays-at-10 p.m. slot. In MTV’s target demo of 12- to 34-year-olds, Buckwild was the No. 1-rated original cable series on Thursday nights.
Before the show’s first season launched on Jan. 3, the executive producer of Buckwild told EW that Gandee was one of the original reasons why he thought Buckwild would be so compelling. Gandee worked as a trash man, had no cell phone, and shunned TV. “It’s quite the opposite of everything else on TV. These kids aren’t hooked into the internet. They don’t do Facebook. Shane doesn’t even have a cell phone. The parents have to go find 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,” Johnson continued. “They ride motorcycles. They jump in a lake. One kid said, ‘We don’t have a roller coaster,’ so he jumps in a front loader and his friend swings him 20 feet up in the air for thrills.”