April 1, 2013 at 1:23 PM ET
Updated April 2, 3:35 p.m. ET: Shain Gandee, a star on MTV's "Buckwild" reality show, and two others in a truck he was riding in died of carbon monoxide poisoning, the Kanawha County (W.Va.) Sheriff’s Office told TODAY.com on Tuesday.
Gandee, 21, his uncle David Gandee, 48, and friend Donald Myers, 27, were found in a 1984 Ford Bronco that was partially submerged in deep mud with the exhaust pipe completely covered, according to a report from NBC affiliate WSAZ. Shain Gandee was in the driver's seat, according to a sheriff's press release.
The group had been reported missing on Sunday, and according to the sheriff's office, were said to have been last seen at a Sissonville, W.Va., bar around 3 a.m., before they planned to go four-wheeling.
MTV suspended production of "Buckwild" in the wake of the death of Gandee. Last month, the network renewed the show for a second season. In a statement to TODAY.com on Monday, MTV said, "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."
Shain, along with "Buckwild" co-star Shae Bradley, appeared on TODAY in January to defend their then-new show from critics who feared their on-screen antics would reinforce negative stereotypes about West Virginians.
Shain's defense of the show now strikes a sad tone. "You only live once, so live it up," he said.
According to Shain's father, the young reality TV star did just that.
"I spoke with Shain’s father, who is devastated as you can imagine,” show producer J.P. Williams told The Hollywood Reporter. "But he said something that I thought was pretty profound, which is that his son died doing what he loved to do."
Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who in December called the show a "travesty," expressed his condolences over Shain's death Monday. In a statement to TODAY.com, he said, "My family and I join all West Virginians in praying for the Gandee family as they go through this difficult time."
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