It is sad to share the news that the famed “Burning Man” event ended up on a wrong note as a 41-year old Aaron Joel Mitchell passed away while running towards the flame.
Aaron broke past the safety perimeter and willingly jumped into the flaming effigy, he was treated on site and transferred to UC Davis Hospital in California, where he was declared dead. The Burning Man issued their official statement :
“Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, succumbed Sunday morning to injuries suffered after breaking through a safety perimeter Saturday night and running into a fire at the annual Burning Man event in northern Nevada.
Mr. Mitchell’s family has been advised of his death. Burning Man is working with local and federal law enforcement agencies, and an investigation is currently ongoing.
After being pulled from the fire by Black Rock City fire personnel, Mr. Mitchell was treated on scene, transported to the on-site medical facility, and airlifted to UC Davis Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center. He succumbed after arriving at the burn center.
The Burning Man organization canceled scheduled burns through noon Sunday but will proceed with the scheduled Temple burn at 8 p.m. Sunday night.
We’re aware this incident has affected not only those who responded immediately on the scene, but also those who witnessed it, and our Black Rock City community more broadly. We are working to make resources available to those affected. Here are some available now:
Emotional support teams have been made available to participants and staff. For people on playa, the Zendo Project is providing peer counseling at their space at 5:15 & A. Support staff from our Emergency Services Department’s Crisis Intervention Team are stationed at 3:00 & C, 9:00 & C, and 5:30 & Esplanade. Please seek them out.
If you are not on playa and are feeling the need to talk to someone, don’t wait. You can reach 24/7 crisis and suicide hotlines at 1-800-273-8255 or 775-784-8090. You can also text LISTEN to 839863.
Now is a time for closeness, contact and community. Trauma needs processing. Promote calls, hugs, self-care, check-ins, and sleep. We have found this article helpful for understanding how trauma affects us: “A New Normal: Ten Things I’ve Learned About Trauma”.
May his soul rest in peace. And folks, please stay mentally conscious when at an event, we all have our loved ones back home waiting for us. Party hard but stay safe.