Drug intoxication suspected in death of 32-year-old man at Burning Man Festival

Drug intoxication suspected in death of 32-year-old man at Burning Man Festival

(As originally published with gallery, Wed, September 6th 2023, 6:23 PM EDT)

BLACK ROCK DESERT, Nev. (TND) — The unseasonable weather that caused chaos for tens of thousands at the 2023 Burning Man Festival is not connected to one death that occurred during the celebration.

Instead, the Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in northwestern Nevada suspects the man died from drug intoxication.

Authorities said Leon Reece, 32, was found unresponsive last Friday. Officially, the cause and manner of his death are still pending.

The tragedy happened during an unusual late-summer storm in the Black Rock Desert, which left the more than 70,000 attendees stuck in foot-deep mud and without working toilets.

Burning Man is an annual gathering that attracts nearly 80,000 artists, influencers, and other cultural elites for a mix of wilderness camping, communal expression, and avant-garde performances.

This year’s event was scheduled from Aug. 27 to Monday, Sept. 4. That afternoon, the muddy roads had dried enough for organizers to start letting traffic out through the main road.

Organizers even asked people to stay another day to ease traffic.

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