Shain, his uncle David Gandee, 48, and buddy Donald Robert Myers, 27, went roaring through the remote dark woods in Shain’s Ford Bronco, a pastime they called “muddin.”
But the fun came to a sudden halt when the truck became mired in deep mud sometime after 3am on Sunday morning. The trio decided to sleep it off in the truck until daylight; the decision proved fatal.
Shain, who was driving, kept the Bronco running without realizing that the muffler and tailpipe were buried in the mud, force deadly carbon monoxide emissions to seep back inside the truck. If they had been sober and awake they probably would have noticed and escaped alive.
Usually, carbon monoxide poisoning causes a severe headache and dizziness, leading to weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pains and ultimately death. Although the gas is odorless and colorless, exhaust fumes aren’t because of other emissions.
But if you are asleep, or passed out, you may never feel the symptoms or smell the fumes. Red blood cells pick up CO quicker than oxygen. The CO slowly replaces oxygen in the blood resulting in death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to die, depending on the concentration of the gas. Victims usually feel a headache and maybe nauseous before the gas makes them drowsy and they pass out.
The weather wasn’t especially cold. The official low temperature in nearby Charleston was 47 degrees that night. But up in the hills. it was likely colder. Cold enough, apparently, for Shain to keep the truck running for heat.
The truck was finally pulled from the mud yesterday by a bulldozer. It was found by friends who went searching for the men, after they’d gone missing for more than 30 hours. They were last seen at a Sissonville bar Saturday night.
West Virginia police confirmed earlier today that Gandee and his companions all died from carbon monoxide poisoning based on autopsy results. The deaths were ruled an accident. For more updates, follow TheImproper on Twitter.