A woman who has not yet been identified died early Thursday morning when she fell under the wheels of a bus at Burning Man. The details of the accident have not yet been released, and organizers are still attempting to notify the woman's next of kin, as the Burning Man blog reports.
They've only said that the woman died "after falling under a bus carrying participants," and organizers are working with Pershing County sheriffs on an investigation.
Burning Man co-founder Marian Goodell issued a statement saying, "This is a terrible accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and campmates. Black Rock rangers and emergency services department staff are providing support to those affected."
At least 68,000 people are expected to attend the festival this year, which is manned by 500 private security personnel as well as 95 federal and local law enforcement officers.
This is hardly the first death to occur at the festival, but if you accept the official reports which tend to stress the safety and the "spirit" of the event it's the first one to occur in many years. The last officially recorded accidental death at Burning Man was in 2003 when 21-year-old Katherine Lampman died after being run over by an art car. Also, there was a suicide by hanging at the Comfort & Joy camp in 2007. But the rumors and debate about how many other deaths occur on the playa or as a result of Burning Man activities each year go on as organizers likely try to downplay or avoid any official reports. Deaths that occur at Reno hospitals or on the way in or out of the festival are purposefully disassociated with the event. But, as many have pointed out, cities of 70,000 tend to see at least a couple deaths per day, natural or otherwise, even though their populations might have more older people among them.
At least one man had a very close call with a lightning bolt just this week, on Monday, when rain and hail storms struck the playa and the Burning Man gates were closed for a day. Lightning struck in two spots, and one Heavy Equipment staffer reported he "was near where the lightning struck, and he said he could feel a jolt rise from the ground."