Shain Gandee, the star of MTV's "Buckwild" reality show, died of carbon monoxide poisoning inside a Ford Bronco that was partially submerged in deep mud near his home in rural West Virginia, according to autopsy results released today.
The deaths of Gandee and two others in the vehicle were ruled accidental, Cpl. B.D. Humphreys of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office told ABCNews.com Tuesday afternoon.
Gandee, 21, starred in the series ""Buckwild," which followed the exploits of his friends and family.
Gandee, his uncle, David Gandee, 48, and Donald Robert Myers, 27, were found dead inside the Bronco on Monday. He and his uncle were last seen around 3 a.m. Sunday at Larry's Bar where they told friends they were leaving to go four-wheeling.
About 30 hours later, the county dispatch received a call of a disabled vehicle in a rural part of the county and used all-terrain vehicles to access the area, finding Gandee behind the wheel of the SUV which was upright but submerged in deep mud, Humphreys said. The muffler was completely below the mud's surface.
"There was no damage to the vehicle from an impact. It was just stuck in a mud hole," Humphreys said.
The area where the Bronco was found is one mile from Gandee's home in Sissonville, according to officials. Police used a bulldozer to remove the Bronco from the mud.
MTV announced in February that "Buckwild" would return for a second season. Early Tuesday morning the cable network confirmed it would suspend production of the reality series.
A spokesperson for MTV released a statement to ABCNews.com:"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."
On the show's website, Shain Gandee was described as "the sociable and loyal High School Prom King who loves four-wheeling, but loves his parents most of all."
The relative with Shain Gandee at his last public appearance said his family - father, Dale, mom, Loretta and older sister, Shalena - is struggling with their loss.
"Shain's dad lost his son and his brother, two people very important to him in his life, in the same day," Ashlee Gandee, 32, Shain's second cousin, told ABCNews.com. "They're taking it hard, as they should be."
Ashlee Gandee is the owner of Gandee's General Store in Crown Center, Ohio,where crowds of fans came to see Shain Gandee last Saturday at the store's grand opening.
The reality TV star went "muddin,'" the term for the driving in the mud that Shain Gandee was doing at the time of his death, with a group of attendees on Saturday and now those friends are raising money for the family with a benefit "Muddin' Run" to be held tomorrow in Ohio.
"We're taking all the proceeds and bringing them to us to send Shane's parents," Ashlee Gandee said. "Whatever expenses they need to keep from being burdened."
The show first premiered on MTV in January amid criitcism that it depicted negative stereotypes of West Virginians. Sen. Joe Manchin wrote a letter to the president of MTV before the show aired criticizing it for encouraging youth to misbehave for the camera.
"You preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior – and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong," wrote Manchin.
Some television critics even called the show the "Redneck Jersey Shore," which debuted in the same time slot that show once held on MTV.
Shain Gandee's costars took to Twitter to express their grief in the hours after his death.
"I just don't understand," tweeted Shae Bradley. "Just woke up and it's not all just a night mare."
"Rip Shain Gandee. You are an angel, I know you will watch over me," wrote Ashley Whitt.
- Politics & Government
- Carbon monoxide poisoning