Shain Gandee, the fun-loving breakout star of MTV’s “Buckwild,” was remembered Sunday at a memorial service full of camouflage, emotional tributes and the music of Hank Williams Jr.
Williams’ country anthem, “A Country Boy Can Survive,” was played at the Charleston Municipal Auditorium in the West Virginia town as Gandee, 21, was remembered by hundreds of camouflage-clad friends and family and his fellow cast members from the hit reality series, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.
“I know where Shain is,” his mother, Loretta Gandee, told the crowd. “He said about a month ago, ‘I know when I die I’m going to heaven.’”
Gandee, his uncle, David Gandee, 48, and friend Donald Robert Myers, 27, were found dead April 1 inside a Ford Bronco that was partially submerged in deep mud near Gandee’s home in rural West Virginia. Autopsies confirmed the three men died of carbon monoxide poisoning, likely the result of the Bronco’s tailpipe being submerged in mud. The three deaths were ruled accidental.
Sunday’s service was held jointly for both Gandee and his uncle, David. Many of the mourners not dressed in camouflage donned neon t-shirts featuring the “Gandee Candy” logo, a reference to both Gandee’s family’s candy company and his nickname.
The auditorium’s parking lot was filled with mud-speckled cars and trucks, a tribute to Gandee’s love of four-wheeling and “muddin,’” and the closed caskets of both men were draped in flowers, according to reports.
While Gandee’s life was open to cameras, his funeral service and the private burial that followed were not. Those who attended told the Charleston Daily Mail the service was full of remembrances of Gandee, including a musical tribute from his mom and a slideshow of family photos.
MTV, which aired “Buckwild” the reality TV series that followed the lives of Gandee and his friends and family in West Virginia, confirmed to the Associated Press that production crews were not with Gandee at the time of his death and had last filmed with him earlier that week.
The network, which described itself as “shocked and saddened” by the deaths, had announced the day after Gandee’s death that it would suspend production of the series. A spokesperson for MTV told the AP it would be “at least a few weeks” before any decision on how, or whether, to continue on with the show.