The man who died last week at the Burning Man festival in Nevada is believed to have passed away from drug intoxication, reports say.
The Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the deceased as Leon Reece, 32, of Truckee, California, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The office said Tuesday that Reece’s cause and manner of death are still pending investigation, but drug intoxication is suspected, the newspaper added.
Emergency crews tended to the man on Friday and could not resuscitate him after he was found on the playa, organizers reportedly said.
The news comes as traffic leaving the festival – which was hit with heavy rains this year – finally appeared to subside early Wednesday after backups of around four hours were still being reported overnight.
On Monday, the Burning Man website said “Exodus operations have officially begun in Black Rock City,” also noting that in previous years, “Exodus wait times peaked at six to nine hours.”
“The driving ban has been lifted,” said a message on a portion of the website titled “2023 Wet Playa Survival Guide.”
Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen told the San Francisco Chronicle that the conditions had brought out the “angry” side of some attendees.
“As usually happens in what burners refer to as the ‘default world’ people allow their emotions to override their reasonableness and they are lashing out at each other as they leave the playa and attempt to make it to their next destination,” he told the Chronicle in an email. “This behavior definitely does not fall within the 10 principles of Burning Man, but that is not the fault of BMP either, but is a societal issue.”
On Saturday, organizers of the counterculture festival told attendees to shelter in a warm, safe place and conserve food, water and fuel amid rainstorms. Both the airport and entrance of Black Rock City, Nevada, where the event is held, were closed because of the conditions.
The measures came after more than one-half inch of rain was believed to have drenched the festival site on Friday, the National Weather Service in Reno said.
The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said on Saturday that the death happened “during this rain event.”
Fox News’ Greg Wehner and Paul Conner contributed to this report.