Shockingly, a man has died after running into the 50-foot burning effigy that marks the end of the Burning Man festival according to Pershing County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada. However, this is not the first time some one has died running into a fire at the festival.
Aaron Joel Mitchell (41)
Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, died after running into the 50-foot burning effigy that marks the end of the Burning Man Festival. He was a construction worker from Oklahoma who was attending his first Burning Man Festival.
The Burning Man
The end of the festival is traditionally marked by the burning of a 50-foot effigy known as “The Man”. Mitchell purposefully snuck through a security barricade, ran past security guards, and into the blazing inferno. Fire rescue teams had to pull back and wait for structure collapse before rescuing Mitchell.
What Is Burning Man?
For those of you who might not know what Burning Man is, it’s an annual gathering in Blackrock City, Nevada bringing tens of thousands of people together, dedicated to self-expression and the arts. This is a unique event where everything is about giving. There’s no barter system and you can’t find traditional transactions anywhere. It’s just people coming together for an event to enjoy the festivities themselves. As you can imagine, that includes a lot of outrageous activities, costumes, drugs, and alcohol.
No Sign Of Drugs or Alcohol
Mitchell was airlifted to the hospital at UC Davis but died of his injuries the next morning. Surprisingly, authorities stated that there were no traces of drugs or alcohol in Aaron Mitchell’s system.
Mitchell’s mother told local press, “He’s 41, but they are always your baby. He was loving and a nice person,” she added. “Joel liked hiking and outdoors, running.” Mitchell’s father, struggling to come to terms with the tragedy of his son’s death, told reporters, “You just never want something like this to happen.”
Emotional Support Teams
Organizers of Burning Man were also quick to help attendees at the festival. On Sunday, organizers made “emotional support teams” available to all attendees that may have been affected by this tragedy at the event. They said, “we’re aware that this incident has affected not only those who responded immediately on the scene but also those who witnessed it. In a statement, organizers said “Now is a time for closeness, contact, and community. Trauma needs processing. Promote calls, hugs, self-care, check-ins, and sleep.”
Not The First Time
This isn’t the first time someone has died from running into the fire at Burning Man. According to the festival’s website, another man in 2001 died from running into another burning structure, having died of his injuries later at a Reno, Nevada hospital. The report said they think he ran into the burning of Amazing Larry’s Lucky Seven Ages, the casino built into two large dice in the Deep Playa.
Jermaine “Jerm” Barley
There have also been a lot of strange deaths connected to the Burning Man festival. In 2007, Jermaine “Jerm” Barley was discovered hanging in his tent from an apparent suicide. It’s believed that his body had been discovered later than one would expect because many of the festival attendees thought his hanging body was a decoration or part of a piece of art.
Vehicle deaths have also been reported to be an issue at Burning Man. Festival attendees have been known to arrive with art-cars that are now limited to 5MPH speed limits. This regulation was enacted after 1996’s Burning Man festival when an organizer’s friend died while riding a motorcycle in a chicken match with a truck. That same year, shockingly, a driver drove over a tent full of sleeping people in the dark, with his headlights off.
Alicia Louise Cipicchio
Even though this regulation has been enforced to the best of the organizer’s ability, people have still been victims of vehicle accidents at the event. In 2014, Alicia Louise Cipicchio, she Was Killed by a fur-Covered bus called ‘Shagadelica’. Sometime after midnight on Thursday morning, it’s believed she may have fallen from the bus before landing under the wheels.
The Burning Man Co-Founder described this as a “terrible accident”. Shagadelica is essentially a night club on wheels. Equipped with a fully functional DJ booth, an array of laser sky projectors and lights, 32,000W for enough sound to keep the party going, and a fully stocked bar.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that another death occurred via Art-Car 11 years ago. In 2003, Katherine Lampman of Belmont died at the event when she fell from an “art car” and was run over by its wheels, similarly to Alicia Cipicchio. Lampman, 21, was a student at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco and an aspiring photographer. It was said she died at 3 a.m. when she was trying to get off the car. The driver, Randy Emata said, “Cathy decided she wanted to see the “Temple of Honor”. She climbed down from the second story, stepped to the back right of “Bar Car” and jumped off while we were in motion. Somehow, she ended up falling back towards “Bar Car”. I will never forget the feeling that surged into my hands through the steering wheel. My worst fears were followed by a myriad of terrified voices, screaming for me to stop the car. I ran back and discovered that the trailer ran her over. Her life was slowly coming to an end as she breathed less and less. A revival was attempted, but failure was inevitable.”
Erika “the Red” Kupfersberger died of an aneurysm on the playa in 2011. There was no particular evidence that had anything to do with being at Burning Man, but some have pointed a finger at the festival regarding their reputation for loud music, drugs, and alcohol. It’s not infrequent that people have heart attacks and strokes at Burning Man, and not always because of any particular Burning Man factor.
DJ Adam Goldstone
Adam Goldstone, a DJ with a known heart condition, died in RV after fainting in 2006. Nobody knows for sure what killed 37-year-old Adam Goldstone but they do know the East Village DJ hit his head on some rebar, causing him to suffer from at least a mild concussion. To make matters worse, he later slipped or fainted in the shower in his RV, injuring himself further and eventually dying. Emergency medical personnel rushed to the scene but were unable to save him. Goldstone’s father was of the opinion that his son may have had a heart condition.