Burning Man draws 66,000; woman run over by art car, killed
September 3, 2014
RENO, Nev. — The Burning Man counterculture festival drew a peak crowd of nearly 66,000 celebrants as it neared an end Monday on the Northern Nevada desert.
Friday's official peak attendance of 65,922 was within the population cap of 68,000 the federal Bureau of Land Management imposed on the quirky art and music festival 110 miles north of Reno, Gene Seidlitz, manager of the agency's Winnemucca District, told the Associated Press.
The number was down from last year's record of 69,613, which resulted in organizers being placed on probation for a second time in three years for violating the limit.
Organizers had been warned that if they were placed on probation a second straight year, the agency might suspend or cancel their permit.
Overall, the weeklong festival leading up to Labor Day was successful and safe except for Thursday's death of a 29-year-old Wyoming woman who was struck by a bus carrying passengers on the playa of the Black Rock Desert, Seidlitz said.
The accident happened just after midnight near Center Camp, event spokesman Jim Graham said.
Alicia Louise Cipicchio, of Jackson, Wyo., was pronounced dead on the scene.
According to various reports, Cipicchio fell under the fur-covered "Shagadelica" double-decker bus and was run over by it, according to the Pershing County Sheriff's Office.
Burning Man co-founder Marian Goodell said it was a "tragic accident."
According to the festival's blog, the art car was towing a trailer with heavy equipment, including a generator. Burning Man founders Larry Harvey and Goodell were on board.
According to the blog, she tried to jump on the bus while it was moving to climb a ladder to its roof, between the bus and trailer.
The last accidental death there was seven years ago, when an attendee fell under a trailer.
Crime statistics for this year's event will not be released until later this month, Seidlitz said.
Rain early on closed the gate for a full day Monday — the longest closure in the event's history — and dust storms caused occasional whiteout conditions Friday.
But the festival's eclectic artwork, offbeat theme camps, concerts and other entertainment drew praise from participants from around the world.
"Actually, I feel renewed faith in humanity," John Bacon, of Seattle, told KRNV-TV.
Ron Adair, of Ojai, California, said he felt "a little tired."
"It's a little hard to have that many nights in a row and get by on four, five, six hours of sleep every night," Adair said.
After it moved from San Francisco, the inaugural Burning Man in Nevada drew only about 80 people in 1990.
Sierra Sun Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.