Authorities said Gandee, his 48-year-old uncle, David Gandee, and 27-year-old Donald Robert Myers were last seen around 3 a.m. Sunday at a bar and they told people they were going driving off-road. The SUV was found by one of Shain Gandee's friends next to a trail used by four-wheel drive vehicles, about 15 miles outside of Charleston.
The network has not said whether it was filming Gandee at the bar Sunday morning or after he left.
A four-wheeling charity event was being planned, with donations going to Gandee's family for funeral costs.
Jim Humphrey, a salesman at Morgantown Power Sports, said mudding is just a part of the Mountain State's history. People who live near lakes and oceans buy speedboats and personal watercraft. People who live near mountains and mud buy four-wheelers, he said.
"People around here just like to get muddy and have fun," said Humphrey, whose dealership sells 40 to 50 all-terrain vehicles a month at an average price of about $6,500.
West Virginia has an abundance of designated riding trails, including the 600-mile Hatfield-McCoy Trails network, which lets tourists and local alike traverse seven West Virginia counties. Local officials say riders have come from as far as Alaska and Canada.
But Humphrey, who used to ride two or three times a week, said locals often prefer to forge their own paths.
"That's part of it, just the adventure," he said. "Just getting away from work or whatever."
That thrill-seeking isn't without risk. Statistics on off-road fatalities weren't immediately available, but there were 588 ATV-related deaths reported from 1982-2011, the most recent statistics available from the state Division of Motor Vehicles. Of those, 144 occurred from 2008-2011.
People more commonly use ATVs, not trucks, Humphrey said.