This weekend, thousands gathered in Nevada for the annual Burning Man festival, but the festivities were cut short when a man ran into the festival's titular Burning Man effigy on Saturday night.
41-year-old Aaron Joel Mitchell reportedly dodged security guards installed around the burning installation. After he entered the flames, fire personnel had to wait for the blaze to die down before extracting him, as pieces of the Man sculpture kept falling down and shifting. Mitchell was later airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where he was pronounced dead on Sunday morning.
Mitchell's parents Don and Johnnye spoke to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sunday to share memories of their son. "He was just a dear, sweet guy, very personable. He had so many friends from all over the world," Johnnye shared, "Everyone loved him, and he would help anybody who needed help."
Don wondered, "Maybe he was slipped something,. We really don’t know. He was always very cautious about what he ate."
Mitchell's wife, with whom he'd lived with in Switzerland, was reportedly on her way into the U.S.
Burning Man posted a notice on its website about Mitchell's death, as well as updating attendees on the status of other scheduled burning events. Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen shared in a statement on Sunday night that medical staff determined Mitchell hadn't been under the influence of alcohol, with a further toxicology screening pending.
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