The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office positively identified 21-year-old Gandee, his 48-year-old uncle David Gandee and 27-year-old Donald Myers as those found dead Monday in the Gandee family's 1984 Ford Bronco, which was reportedly submerged up to its windows in mud in Sissonville, West Virginia.
The shocking death of Gandee -- known to many reality TV fans as the sociable and lovable garbage man -- follows the news that two of Gandee's "Buckwild" castmates have become entangled in their own controversies.
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In February, the problematic reality show was renewed for a second season, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, the cast members banded together for a salary increase and were awarded a raise from $1,000 per episode to $4,000 per episode, plus a $5,000 bonus. Just one week later, cast member Salwa Amin was arrested in a drug raid outside Charleston, West Virginia. The 24-year-old was charged with two counts of drug possession with intent to deliver after oxycodone pills and heroin were found in the home.
Though Amin was released shortly after the arrest on $100,000 in bail, the reality show star was jailed again in late March after her court-ordered drug test came back positive for oxycodone and morphine.
Fellow "Buckwild" cast member Michael Burford was also arrested in February -- just one week after Amin's initial arrest -- for allegedly driving under the influence and speeding. TMZ reportedthat the star failed a sobriety test with a blood alcohol level greater than .15
From the very start, "Buckwild" has courted controversy with many critics, who have chided the show for what they say is a stereotypical portrayal of hard-partying West Virginians.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin urged MTVto cancel the show even before it aired, saying that it was "shameful." In a letter to the network, the Democratic senator wrote, "As a proud West Virginian, I am writing to formally request that you put a stop the travesty called 'Buckwild'... Instead of showcasing the beauty of our state, you preyed on young people, coaxed them into shameful behavior -- and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong... This show plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia."
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Despite the disputes, the MTV show premiered in January to an audience of 2.49 million viewers, beating the debut of its predecessor, "Jersey Shore," to 1.375 million viewers back in 2009. Amidst the news of Gandee's death, Deadline is reporting that MTV has now suspended production of the show's second season and has shut down filming. There is no word yet as to whether MTV will go forward with airing any episodes of the second season or if Gandee will be featured.