Burning Man Ends With Hours-Long Traffic Jam as Stranded Burners Head Home

Police have released the name of the person who died at the desert festival’s 2023 edition, but cause of death is still not known

Burning Man
Photo by David McNew/Newsmakers

Thousands of stranded Burning Man attendees were finally headed home in hours-long lines on Monday and Tuesday as the Nevada desert finally dried up enough for the roads to reopen.

Organizers asked people to stagger their departures to prevent further delays, CBS reported. News footage showed thousands of vehicles end to end in what appears to be eight lanes of traffic slowly making their way out of the desert. A CBS reporter estimated that it might take some travelers 12 hours to make their exit.

One man told CBS it took him four hours to make his way out.

Some Burners stayed to see the Man finally set on fire, but thousands took to the road as soon as they were allowed to exit the mudbound site, Today reported on Tuesday.

Among those who hiked out early, despite the cement-like mud, were DJ Diplo and comedian Chris Rock. They were picked up by fans and shared their tale on social media.

One person died during the nine-day festival. His cause of death is still not known. On Monday, Pershing County Sheriff’s Office in Lovelock, Nevada, identified Leon Reece, 32 as the deceased. He was declared dead on the scene.

Sgt. Nathan Carmichael told NBC News that there were no obvious signs of trauma. “No indication it’s the weather,” he said,” dispelling the idea that Reece’s death was related to the torrential rain that hit the festival. Results of a toxicology report have not yet come back.

Three people have previously perished at Burning man, according to NBC News: In 2017, a man died after jumping into a bonfire; in 2014, a woman died after being hit by a bus. A friend of one of the fest’s founders had a fatal motorcycle accident in 1996, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.