Young MTV star Shain Gandee and two passengers died in a tragic accident on Monday, April 1, after their vehicle became wedged firmly into a bed of deep mud in the Sissonville area of Kanawha County, WV, the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
According to officials, Gandee, 21, his uncle David Gandee, 48, and a previously unidentified third man, 27-year-old Donald Robert Myers, were seemingly trapped inside of their Ford Bronco when all three men were discovered early Monday morning.
"The vehicle sat unevenly, but upright, and was partially submerged in deep mud," the statement read. "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."
Gandee was discovered in the driver's seat, and all three bodies have since been removed from the vehicle and taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner to determine the official cause of death.
Speculations about what led to the early morning tragedy have pointed to possible carbon monoxide poisoning, according to TMZ. Sources tell the site that the scenario is possible because the car's tail pipe was submerged in the mud.
The three men were originally reported missing on Sunday, March 31, after family and friends were unable to get in touch with Gandee and his uncle. They were last seen alive at Larry's Bar at around 3 a.m. in the morning -- according to a news release from the sheriff's office, they had planned to go four-wheeling in Gandee's Ford Bronco.
Prior to the discovery, the West Virgina State Police Aviation Unit was prepared to take to the skies to search for the missing MTV star.
"It's been difficult -- you don't want to interrupt [the investigators] when they're hard at work and they're trying to get answers for these people," Cpl. B.D. Humphreys told Us. "I don't want to aggravate them with requests for information."
An outpouring of heartfelt tributes for Gandee have quickly cropped up online -- from family, friends, and fellow MTV reality stars.
"Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat," Gandee's Buckwild costar Shae Bradley wrote. "Just going through the motions. Please pray for Shain's close friends and family."
Added Jersey Shore alum Pauly D: "Damn RIP Shain from @MTV Buckwild. Too young to die!!! He was a funny dude."