The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 3, 2013

Senator offers sympathy in reaction to Gandee death

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — From the very start, Sen. Joe Manchin sharply criticized the Appalachian reality show “Buckwild,” but there was no finger-pointing Tuesday over the death of a star of the MTV production.

Instead, Manchin voiced nothing but sympathy for Shain Gandee, 21, who was found dead in a truck with an uncle and another companion Monday in Sissonville, where the show was filmed.

“I have nothing but sympathy for the family,” Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters, after his official portrait was unveiled in the governor’s reception room to a sustained chorus of “ahs” by an overflow crowd.

“It was just awful. A young person, very bright and promising, to have it come to an end in such a short time.”

Manchin said the deaths of Gandee, an uncle, David Gandee, 48, and a third man were tragic. Authorities in Kanawha County tentatively have ruled out any foul play. The victims were last seen in a Sissonville bar around 3 a.m. Sunday.

“It has nothing to do with this series,” the senator said. “That’s immaterial.

“This is all about family and about losing a loved one, at such a young age, and other family members who were lost. It’s a real shame.”

Manchin said he isn’t placing any blame on “Buckwild,” although he was so annoyed by its content that he asked MTV to cancel it even before the show debuted.

“I always said the show was entertainment, not reality,” he said.

“I think when you hear people talk about this young man, his life, the kindness and generosity, he was surely acting a part that they wanted acted. I understand he did a good job, very good. It’s more of entertainment than it would have been reality.”

“Buckwild” features a group of 20-something residents of the Sissonville area engaged in a series of escapades, a countrified version of “Jersey Shore.”

“This should be about him (Gandee) and his life and the other people who passed, their lives, their families,” Manchin said.

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