CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Preliminary autopsy findings indicate "Buckwild" star Shain Gandee and two other men died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Gandee's Ford Bronco.
His death and those of his uncle David Gandee, 48, and friend Robert Myers, 27, were ruled accidental, said Cpl. Brian Humphreys, a spokesman for the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department.
The three were found Monday morning about a mile from Shain's Sissonville area home. Shain and his uncle were last seen at 3 a.m. Saturday at Larry's Bar in Sissonville. They told others they were going off-roading in the Bronco, which had oversized tires.
Family members began searching Sunday morning. Ashley Gandee Lewis, Shain's cousin, said Shain's parents became worried when he wasn't home for church.
"That's how they realized something was wrong," Lewis said. "He wasn't there and he would never have missed church on Easter."
She described Shain as a normal, country, fun-loving young man, who loved "being a boy." But he also was very respectful to his elders and had good manners. He had a close relationship with his grandmother.
"If his grandmother wanted him in church on Sunday, that's where he would have been," she said. "He would have done anything for her."
His parents are devastated, Lewis said.
Shain's mother, Loretta, has worked as a Kanawha County deputy tax clerk for several years, Sheriff John Rutherford said.
"She's a good lady and she has a good family," Rutherford said, adding that his office would assist the family in any way it could.
Friends and family reported Shain and David missing Monday.
A friend found the Bronco Monday morning stuck in a mud pit next to a ridge-top trail, about a mile from Shain's home near Thaxton Hollow.
Shain's body was found in the driver's seat.
Humphreys said the Bronco was sitting unevenly but upright and was partially submerged in deep mud. The lower part of the passenger side door was covered with mud, but the driver's side door was clear.
The SUV's muffler was completely below the mud's surface.
Dr. Elizabeth Scharman, director of the West Virginia Poison Center, could not speak directly to the matter, but she said carbon monoxide poisoning in vehicles most commonly occurs in one of two ways.