Although his MTV show was met with much criticism, Shain Gandee was perceived by fans to be the standout bright spot of "Buckwild."
Sadly, the 21-year-old was discovered dead in his Ford Bronco in Sissonville, West Virginia, along with the bodies of his uncle, David Gandee, and Donald Robert Myers, 27, on Monday. The reality star and his uncle, 48, were last seen leaving Larry's Bar around 3 a.m. on Sunday while claiming that they were going to go four-wheeling. The pair's family reportedly searched for them before calling 911 to declare them missing.
When the show premiered just three months ago, fans instantly took to Shain for his fun-loving, down-to-earth persona, and they were shocked to hear of his death after omg! first reported the news this morning. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
"I am so sad to hear this heart breaking news," commented one reader named atiana. "I'm not making assumptions about what happened and neither should anyone else. It's a tragedy that three people have lost their lives, and my heart goes out to their families. I watched the show, and personally found Shain to be very funny, sincere, down to earth, and likeable. My heart goes out to his family and friends, and they will all be in my prayers."
"How sad," added a user named August. "He was so likeable. R.I.P."
"I liked Shain the best out of the group, stayed the same throughout the show," wrote another fan. "I never understood what he said but he seemed like a good kid."
[Related: MTV Shuts Down 'Buckwild' Production]
When Gandee began shooting "Buckwild" in early 2012, he was still working as a trash collector in his hometown … and he didn’t even own a cell phone!
"The parents have to go in the woods when I call to find him," executive producer John Stevens told Entertainment Weekly in December. "Shain is usually out there on his ATV and motorcycle. That’s their idea of fun. That's what so refreshing … These guys don’t have the crap in daily life that convolutes their lives."
And in a reality TV landscape flooded with "stars" flaunting their expensive shoes, mansions, and plastic surgery, Gandee was a breath of fresh air for TV viewers.
The "Redneck MacGyver" — as he was often called — became a breakout star for doing things like going mudding in his pickup truck (with his friends clinging to life in its bed while speeding through muddy water) and constructing a swimming pool out of a dump truck. In fact, mudding was what landed Gandee a spot in the "Buckwild" cast.
"I was over at a friend's house and a guy pulled up in this SUV and he gets out, saying, 'We're here to make a TV show … and we love your truck,'" he explained in January. "My truck was sitting there, covered in mud. You couldn’t see in the windows or nothing. I said, 'You got a camera now? Well, get in.' And I took him back on the ridge … we did some donuts, hit some mud holes, scared him to death — and he loved it."
Gandee, whose Southern accent was so thick he often need subtitles, was also a good salesman. During an appearance on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" in January, he convinced the host to try some canned deer meat he had brought with him as a gift. As the audience cheered, Fallon reluctantly stuck his hand in the jar and tasted it. "It's pretty good actually," he said as Gandee stood up and cheered.
Despite his fame on MTV, Gandee remained grounded and close to his family. Just days before his death, he traveled from West Virginia to Ohio to use his star power to generate attention for his second cousin's general store. "We had the grand opening with him, smiling, signing autographs, and just being his fun self," Ashley Gandee Lewis tells Radar Online. "We actually had people here from Texas, from Dayton, Ohio, from Pennsylvania. People drove hundreds of miles just to meet him because he was such a lovable guy. I'm completely devastated and I know that his entire family is too. It's just totally unexpected."
More Celebrity Features on Yahoo!: