Now here’s some news which will leave you shaken, stirred and feeling very uncomfortable. At the annual Burning Man festival event in the Black Rock Nevada desert, which attracted over 70,000 party goers this year, a 41-year old man named Aaron Joel Mitchell, ran right into the massive burning effigy bonfire of “the Man” at Burning Man, which will no doubt have him forever be remembered as the Burning Man or will he?
This is a tragic and traumatic death for his wife, his family and for anyone that attended the festival and witnessed this horrible incident. The question which we may now never know the answer to is was this a willful suicide, or an episode of drug induced madness?
At 22:30pm on Saturday night, as confirmed by Pershing County Sheriff Jeffrey Allen, when the burning effigy was at its burning peak, Aaron whom went by his middle name Joel, broke the security cordon of a human chain of security officers, running with full force beyond them and straight towards the fire.
The security officers and firemen gave chase to try and stop him, but he continued full speed ahead and ran into the fire, till he hit obstacles making him fall into the blaze.
Within suffering burns to his whole body, there was no way he could be saved, yet firefighters humanely recovered the body rapidly, in an attempt to save his life, airlifting him to a burn centre at UC Davis, but he later died at the hospital in California on Sunday morning.
Joel’s mother, Johnny Mitchell confirmed to the Reno Gazette, that it was her son’s first time at Burning Man, after flying in from Switzerland, although he grew up in Oklahoma. Joel had also come into Oregon some weeks earlier to witness the eclipse.
He was said not to be under the influence of alcohol, but it is yet unclear as to whether he may have been under the influence of any drugs. The counter-culture festival, which has been incredibly popular over the years, has become a hedonistic gathering for people wishing to experience something entirely different with psychedelic art installations, as well as coming to enjoy a strange type of radical freedom of expression, baring their skin in the hot sun, and meeting like-minded people. Some might say that these festival goers are akin to being inside some sort of scene from Mad Max, only without the cool custom motor vehicles and violence. This festival is also popular with celebrities, and this year, people like Paris Hilton and Shanina Shaik attended, to name a few.
Now while some might find this sort of thing fun, for us it’s probably the last place we would want to be in the world. You can call us boring, but with all those people around, some half nude, with sand and that heat, we’d much rather spend the day in an air-conditioned and breezy place someplace else.
Johnnye Mitchell, said this about her son, “He’s 41, but they are always your baby. He was loving and a nice person. Joel liked hiking and outdoors, running.”
The festival, which goes on for a staggering 9 days and culminates with the burning of the 50ft effigy, is located two hours north of Reno. Some say that at previous festivals, others have tried to run into the flames as a symbol or notion of re-birth.
It is yet unclear to us whether Joel is the first person ever to have managed to run into the flames, (though it looks like it), but seemingly he isn’t the first to have attempted to run into the effigy in recent years.
So, will this dampen the spirit of the festival for years to come, or will Burning Man continue to attract more and more popularity? Only time will tell. That being said, some people love it so much, that they even have Burning Man reunion parties across the world, where attendees can reconnect with friends ahead of the next annual Burning Man.
To end on a happier note, here’s some celebrities seen enjoying the festival before the horrible incident occurred. Looking at these photos, you can clearly see why this festival is at the top of some people’s festival calendar’s.
Shanina Shaik was there and enjoyed her time, fit with robust glasses, in case of sand in the eye, see? Now next, it’s Sara Sampaio, the Brazilian supermodel, who goes every year, looking like a hot extra from the music video California Love.
Now it really isn’t a good party if Paris Hilton isn’t there, right? The arguable trailblazer and inventor of the celebrity reality TV craze, is seen here with a flowing skirt to mark the occasion.
Last but not least, it’s Alessandra Ambrosio, the Victoria’s Secret supermodel and the first spokeswoman of VS’s PINK line, pictured soaking up the love with her man.
So, whilst a horrible incident occurred at Burning Man on the final night, there’s always a different story to be told from the hugely popular desert party.
Perhaps one could go if there was an air-conditioned tent with a king size bed to get some sleep on, plus some security outside once night time came along, you know? Even better, if we could charter a helicopter to take us to Vegas when things got a little too crazy, that would be pretty rad.
Brainstain, over and out!
Our thoughts are still with the Mitchell family. R.I.P Joel
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Featured Photo Credit: Stuff.co.nz