The star of MTV's Buckwild was found dead in a vehicle this morning, along with his uncle, David Gandee, and a family friend, Robert Myers, Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper confirmed to ABC's WCHS TV.
The Charleston Daily News reports that Gandee was last seen "about 3 a.m. Sunday at Larry's Bar in Sissonville with David Gandee, 48. The two said they were going off-roading in Shain's Ford Bronco."
A missing person's bulletin put out yesterday included identifying information for Gandee's red Bronco.
Gandee's love of off-roading, or "muddin,'" was chronicled on Buckwild. In this clip, Gandee and Shae discuss a third castmember, Katie's, fear of off-roading.
In the clip, Gandee says of Katie, "I had her crying in my truck."
"We were doing, like, sixty on this little 4-wheel path," he says. "As soon as a shut off the truck she runs out [saying], 'I'm not getting back in there!'"
A passerby on a four wheeler discovered the vehicle this morning off Wolf Pen Drive, according to WCHS TV.
MTV has released a statement expressing the shock felt at the network this morning. "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."
MTV's spokesperson added, "Shain had a magnetic personality, with a passion for life that touched everyone he met and we will miss him dearly."
Update - Apri. 1, 4:40 p.m. EDT: A spokesperson for the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department confirmed that Gandee and two others were found this morning in Gandee's truck, which was stuck in an area only accessible to off-road vehicles.
"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," Corporal Brian Humphreys said in an email.
"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."
He added, "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."
Update - Apr. 1, 6:03 p.m. EDT: The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department has released further details from the scene.
"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," Corporal Brian Humphreys explained in an email. "The vehicle sat unevenly, 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."
There has been speculation today that the three deaths may have been caused by carbon monoxide leaking into the car itself because it was unable to escape through the tailpipe.
Humphreys continued, "The Bronco was found next to a ridge-top trail. That section of the trail itself was passable for four-wheel drive vehicles. However, the Bronco was in a mud pit next to the trail."
Gandee was in the driver's seat of the Bronco, which Humphreys said was removed from the mud pit with the help of a bull-dozer.
Update - Apr. 1, 8:37 p.m. EDT: Corporal Brian Humphreys told BuzzFeed this evening that it was unclear why Gandee and his companions might have been in the area where they were found. Humphreys said it was possible that the land could be used for logging or may have gas lines running through it.
"I'm not sure about the exact use of that part of the property," Humphreys said, adding, "But it certainly is not uncommon for people to go four-wheeling, or as we call it, muddin' — there is no 'g' on the end."