A history of deaths at Burning Man

Compiled by Mitch, Rockstar and Brandon

Before this year, there were at least six deaths in Black Rock City. An additional number of Burners passed away after being evacuated.

The known deaths, reported by the Black Rock Beacon and other media or the Burning Man organization:

  • 2011 – Erika Kupfersberger, cerebral hemorrhage.
  • 2007 – Jermaine “Jerm” Barley, suicide by hanging.
  • 2006 – Adam Goldstone, a DJ with a known heart condition, died in RV after fainting.
  • 2005 – Sam Rich, a member of the fire-dancing group Controlled Burn, heart attack. Rich had sustained a head injury for which he was given stitches on Wednesday, the day before he died.
  • 2003 – Katherine Lampman, run over by art car she was exiting.
  • 2001 – A participant chose to run into a fire, according to the Afterburn probably the burning of Amazing Larry’s Lucky Seven Ages, the casino built into two large dice in the Deep Playa.

Among other event-related fatalities, an unidentified 52-year-old female Burner died in a Reno hospital after being transported from the Playa in 2010 because of an “unknown” medical condition, according to the Afterburn.

In 2005, a second Burner suffered cardiac arrest on the Playa and died that October after slipping into a coma in the hospital.

One fatality occurred from one of the two aircraft crashes in 2003. Barry Jacobs, the pilot of one of the planes, died after being hospitalized.

Two additional deaths in 2001 associated with the event included a Department of Public Works volunteer who died in a motor vehicle accident on the highway before the event and a second traffic fatality on Highway 447 during Exodus.

Michael Furey died in a motorcycle accident as the event was being set up in 1996.

19 thoughts on “A history of deaths at Burning Man

  1. Given BRC is an unfamiliar setting (compared to your home and ‘hood), with many activities at night, many people altered, over-stimulated or distracted, you’d think that there would be many more casualties. Realtively ….

    Texting while driving kills 6,000 annually in the U.S. alone

    Hippos kill 2,900 people annually in Africa

    Autoerotic Asphyxiation Kills 600 people annually

    Falling out of bed kills 450 people annually in the U.S.

    Icicles kill 100 people per year in Russia

    Jellyfish kill 20-40 people per year in the Philippines alone

    Dogs kill 34 people per year in the U.S.

    Ants kill 30 people per year

    Vending machines kill 13 people per year

    Roller Coasters kill 4 people per year

  2. Excellent compilation. As well as first comment’s.

    Ya gotta add this year’s death to the top of the list. Also, I thought there was a death in the early days, 1996ish? when a woman was run over in her tent….? Which prompted the whole ESD developments?

    1. I too recall hearing about a woman run over in her tent in the Burning Man lore. Also these are the deaths “during” the event. I’m curious as to pre and post event death counts, still affiliated with the event itself. It strikes me the people put in the most dangerous settings are the people who build the event in the first place…and yet those wouldn’t techinally be considered “at Burning Man” now would they?

    1. Lol! In case most folks won’t catch the irony, the Holy Roman Empire was none those three things.

      Can you provide a link to the actual tent injury details?

  3. You can find most of the info here, it’s a suit that the guy who was run over filed against everyone his lawyer could think of:

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1203655.html

    Salient points here:

    Reed pitched his tent near a few other tents on the playa several miles from the main camp.   September 1, 1996, appears to be the day the event concluded, although the following day was designated as “clean-up day.”   Early on the morning of September 2, the car of another attendee, traveling across the playa, ran over Reed in his tent.   Reed alleges that he suffered severe, permanent brain damage and was left permanently disabled.   This action resulted.

    (Nowhere is it mentioned that anybody died)

  4. Unless I’m conflating events, in 2001 a woman was killed by her group’s mutant vehicle. I don’t remember her name, but she wrote the gate-edition Gazette piece for the Seven Ages, titled “She finds herself at Burning Man.”

  5. Kathy Lampman was my friend. She didn’t have to die. I was supposed to go with her the Burning Man. I was told by my employer, “Don’t come back”, if you do attend. She looked for others to go with, hooked up with unknowns. I always watched over her, made sure she got home. This time she didn’t go home. I’d have never let her get off in the middle of the night, to see the “Hall of Rememberence”, off a rolling 2 story Art Car, towing a thing being it, which killed her.

    Her funeral had a Burning Man rep say how sorry they were. I haven’t ever done a Burning Man, as Kat’s soul is out there in the Burning Rock Desert, and I finally, finally had the nerve to watch Sparks. Knowing I lost my Kat in that desert.

    I don’t know If I can ever do Burning Man with loss of a loved one out there.

    1. Have some guilt, scarecrow.
      I have absolute empathy for your loss, and my condolences are sincere.
      However, I strongly suggest that, after 14 years, you let yourself off the hook.
      You wouldn’t have let her go, if you knew anything could go astray.
      Although it is written on the ticket, no one expects to die at TTIND.
      She didn’t expect to have a fatal accident, and if she were alive, she would want you to quit being so maudlin about her passing.
      It may be possible that somewhere, deep inside, you may enjoy the process of mourning. Many people do. If that is the case, make some money off your affliction, and rent yourself out as a punching bag.
      If not, then let the dead bury the dead, and quit taking ghosts so seriously. We are all going to be dead soon enough, until then, go love some more.

      Oh, yeah, one more thing. I’ve been told that my job wouldn’t be here, when I got back. I usually just find another job.

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