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Shain Gandee, 'Buckwild' and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Is MTV Star's Death a Teachable Moment? Huffington Post

The death of MTV reality star Shain Gandee has ratcheted up pressure on the cable channel to cancel what was already a controversial show, “Buckwild.” The Huffington Post notes that its short time on the air, the series has seen two of its stars arrested -- one on suspicion of DUI and another for allegedly trying to sell oxycodone and heroin -- and now has had a star, Gandee, killed while “mudding,” a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Critics argue the show uses the formula spawned by ‘Jersey Shore’ (whose absence in MTV’s lineup ‘Buckwild’ was meant to fill), feeding off and egging on the type of bad behavior stereotypical to the region it’s depicting,” the report notes. It adds: “Gandee’s death is already spurring online debates as to how tastelessly season two might go about handling it. Tasteless is sort of ‘Buckwild’s’ M.O.”

Politicians in West Virginia, where “Buckwild” is set, began expressing outrage over the show before it even made it to the air, saying it exploits negative images of the state. Other observers have focused on what can be learned from the death of Gandee and two other men in Gandee’s 1984 Ford Bronco.

The story reports: “Gordon Johnson, an attorney in Wisconsin who tracks cases of carbon monoxide poisoning nationwide, wondered in a blog post [Tuesday] if the freak accident might in fact turn ‘Buckwild’ into that unifying force: the source of ‘a teachable moment.’”

The piece explores the connection between the increasingly popular recreation of mudding -- which, according to its most basic definition, means driving through the mud -- and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Open-air all terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are the most notoriously dangerous rides of choice, but in rare cases -- as in Gandee's -- trucks and other enclosed vehicles can become deadly too,” the story reports. “This can happen if the exhaust pipe gets clogged, in which case, the rule to live by, quite literally, is that bigger is better. Full on obstruction stops the engine from burning altogether, an infinitely safer outcome. Partial clogs result in burning that’s often not clean enough for the delicate operation of producing carbon dioxide emissions. The result is carbon monoxide, an invisible gas that behaves like oxygen upon entering the body, heading straight for the blood stream where it proceeds to suck out oxygen as it would if pumped into a fire.

“Snow, not mud, is typically the culprit. This winter, the city of Boston issued a warning about carbon monoxide after two people, including one child, died in snow-clogged cars, and two others passed out.”

Whatever role alcohol may have played in the incident is expected to become a focus after toxicology reports are released. In the meantime, suffice to point out that Gandee reportedly left a bar around 3 a.m. Sunday after announcing plans to go mudding.

Citing an interview with Johnson, Huffington Post notes about carbon monoxide: “The gas takes ‘minutes, not moments’ to extinguish oxygen from the bloodstream. One might assume the feeling of getting woozy would prompt a person to open a window, or stop revving their car, before it’s too late. But as Johnson points out, that would not be the case after a blizzard: ‘Why do people keep their car running and their windows up when they’re stuck? Because they’re cold.’”

The piece advises: “Never gun a car longer than a minute. ‘If you can't get it to move after 30 seconds, you won't be able to move it,’ Johnson reasoned. Also, probably a good idea to keep your windows open even during those 30 seconds. (Though there was a case last year in Maine of three people dying in a poisoned vehicle despite opening their windows, that nightmarish scenario is rare.)”

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Shain Gandee