A man who ran into the flames of a burning effigy in front of 70,000 people at the Burning Man festival in Nevada has died from his injuries, authorities said.
Festival organizers released a statement confirming that Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, died Sunday morning at a California hospital after he ran into the flames around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen said the man bypassed a human chain of security officers during the “Man Burn” event at the festival, the Daily Mail reported.
Allen said firefighters rescued the man before medics airlifted him to the burn unit at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California, where he later died.
A toxicology report is pending, even though doctors confirmed Mitchell was not intoxicated before his death.
Allen said that in the 15 years he has worked for the county, this is the first time he is aware of that someone bypassed the layers of security and died from running into the fire, WREG reported.
Festival organizers said emotional support teams are available to event attendees and staff.
“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,” the group said on its website.
More than 70,000 people attend the art and music festival held annually in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert 100 miles from Reno.
The festival concludes each year when a 40-foot effigy made of wood is set on fire. Some attendees attempt to run into the flames because it symbolizes rebirth.