April 8, 2013--Charleston, West Virginia--"Mudding" is the term given to driving around backwoods trails in all-terrain vehicles, especially in areas where there is wet ground. However, mudding has some inherent dangers, and every year people are hurt or killed while performing this sport. While young people may be inclined to dismiss these statistics, they will not find it as easy to dismiss the death of 21-year-old Shain Gandee, a television reality star on the show 'BUCKWILD," Gandee was found dead in an SUV near his Sissonville home, apparently a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a clogged exhaust.
Gandee's show has long warned viewers not to attempt the "wild and crazy" antics of the participants, who are noted for pushing safety limits in their vehicles. Gandee and two friends were discovered inside the SUV which was stuck in the mud and had a clogged exhaust from sinking into mud. Apparently the clogged exhaust pipe caused dangerous gases to permeate the cabin, killing the three young men.
Gandee was remembered by friends and family as an enthusiastic mudder who found the activity relaxing. Along with his 48-year-old Uncle and a 27-year-old friend, Gandee was last seen early Sunday morning when the three left a bar, telling friends they were going off-roading. The vehicle was eventually discovered about 15 miles outside of Charleston. There seems to be some confusion about whether filming was going on during the time the men left the bar or whether it was simply their own plan to go mudding that night.
There have been at least 588 ATV-related deaths since 1998, 144 of which occurred between 2008 and 2011. While people more commonly use ATVs for mudding, the use of pickup trucks is not unheard of.
The MTV show of which the young man was a part has suspended filming for the time being. The governor has previously asked MTV to stop filming the show in West Virginia as he felt it portrayed dangerous scenes and unfair stereotypes of West Virginia people.
While there may be no liability on the part of the show for these deaths, that question will be answered once the investigation into the show's role in the accident is
completed. The makers of the reality TV series would definitely have liability if they were filming and left the men without rendering aid, and could have liability if they encouraged them to perform dangerous activities.
On the other hand, the show may be completely innocent of any wrongdoing. If that is the case, the families of the two victims riding with the driver may have claims against his estate. It is unclear from initial reports who was driving the vehicle. As the investigation continues, the answers to these questions will hopefully be answered.
Source: KSBW TV News, "Buckwild TV Star Shain Gandee Dies In 'Mudding' Accident," April 2, 2013