MTV's popular series "Buckwild" lost one of its stars on Monday, when the corpses of Shain Gandee, 21, and two other men were discovered in a car near Sissonville, W.Va.
Gandee and his two companions were last seen at a local bar around 3 a.m. Sunday and were planning to go off-road driving, an activity known as "mudding" among the show's cast members.
A bulldozer was reportedly required to dislodge the 1984 Ford Bronco from a mud-covered logging trail approximately one mile from Gandee's home. The reality TV star was in the driver's seat.
"The vehicle sat unevenly, but upright, and was partially submerged in deep mud," Kanawha Sheriff's Department spokesman Brian Humphreys told The Charleston Daily Mail. "The muffler of the vehicle was completely below the surface of the mud."
Humphreys cautioned that medical examiners have not confirmed a cause of death, but said carbon monoxide poisoning "seemed plausible."
MTV has suspended production of the show's second season, The New York Times reports. Work on the season had been underway for more than a week.
Another member of the cast, Salwa Amin, is currently behind bars without bail until at least April 8—her next court date—after failing a drug test while she was out on bail for a Oxycontin and heroin drug bust in March, TMZ reported last week.
A character roster for "Buckwild" on MTV's website lists just nine primary characters, including Amin and Gandee.
"Buckwild" debuted in January, filling the time slot that once belonged to the trashy yet wildly successful reality TV show "Jersey Shore." It depicts fun-loving West Virginians, but has been criticized for its stereotypical portrayal of the state.
Huntington News reported in November that MTV was denied state tax credits for filming. The director of the West Virginia Film Office had previously explained to the News, "legislation is clear that a production company can't participate in the program if it shows West Virginia in a derogatory manner."
Among the show's detractors are West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who previously served as the state's governor. "I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth," he wrote in a December letter. "I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud profiting off of 'Buckwild.'"
Watch trailer for 'Buckwild':