Police identify man who died Friday as Burning Man "exodus" continues
Hundreds of Burning Man attendees continued to leave Nevada's Black Rock Desert Tuesday after extreme flooding left them stranded for days — but there's an hours-long wait to depart, festival officials said.
Driving the news: Heavy rains in the usually dry Black Rock Desert prompted shelter-in-place orders at the annual camp-out that attracted some 70,000 people on Saturday evening.
State of play: "Exodus operations have officially begun in Black Rock City" as of 2pm local time, festival organizers said Monday after the driving ban was lifted.
- "If you are able to wait to exit until after the man burns, save yourself the long wait," per an online post that linked to a livestream of the burning of the totem that marks the culmination of the festival. The burn was postponed from its usual Saturday night due to the storm.
- Satellite images captured hundreds of vehicles in a traffic jam as they began departing after the driving ban lifted on Monday.
- By Tuesday morning, the wait time was roughly five hours.
Of note: At least one person died at the event, who authorities have now identified as 32-year-old Leon Reece.
- Local police said the "unusual rain event" delayed their investigation into the death, which is ongoing.
- The Pershing County Sheriff's Office said they had received a call Friday about an unresponsive festival-goer, who was receiving CPR from medical staff.
- The festival's doctor pronounced Reece dead before county officials arrived.
- "Pershing County Sheriff's Office Deputies performed a preliminary investigation of the immediate area. After interviewing witnesses at the scene as well as medical responders, no immediate cause of death could be determined," Sheriff Jerry Allen said in a statement shared with Axios.
Context: The desert saw two to three months' worth of rain within 24 hours, according to event officials, which halted all vehicle movement.
- The arid ground was unable to absorb water without creating runoff and mudflows from the rainfall, caused by moisture from the Southwest monsoon.
Catch up fast: Black Rock City, a makeshift town created annually for the event, is located 120 miles from the nearest airport.
- Until internet stations were set up in certain locations, festival attendees were without cellphone service. Amid the flooding, they were told to conserve food, fuel and water.
Burning Man is a "community and global cultural movement," without booked acts or scheduled entertainment, according to its website.
- The event resumed in 2022 after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus.
- This year's dates were set to be Aug. 27 to Sept. 4, but some events were pushed to Sept. 5 in response to the flooding.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.