Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, was identified as the man who died after running into the fiery effigy at the Burning Man 2017 festival, a horrific moment that was captured in a series of photos.
Here is a recent photo of Mitchell before the tragedy:
You can see some of the photos from the tragedy below, but be aware that they are graphic and disturbing.
Horrifically, Aaron Mitchell ran into “the Burning Man festival’s signature burning of a towering effigy,” reported SFGate, was pulled back out of it, and was airlifted to a hospital, where he later died.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mitchell Was From Oklahoma but Was Living in Switzerland
Mitchell journeyed far to attend Burning Man 2017. His mother told the Reno Gazette-Journal that Mitchell, who was usually called by his middle name “Joel,” “grew up in McAlester, Oklahoma but was living in Switzerland.”
The sheriff said Mitchell was a U.S. citizen who had moved to Switzerland.
“He’s 41, but they are always your baby,” said Johnnye Mitchell to RGJ. “He was loving and a nice person.” She told the newspaper that her son “liked hiking and outdoors, running.” He worked in construction and was married without children, according to the newspaper.
One of the most shocking photos showed Aaron Joel Mitchell literally running into the blaze. It was captured by a photographer from Reuters.
Other photos also showed the man in the fire as well as rescuers running toward it in a bid to save him. According to USA Today, Mitchell “broke through a safety perimeter at Burning Man and ran into the flames of the massive burning effigy Saturday night” September 2.
According to The Las Vegas Review-Journal, “The annual festival is held in a dry lake bed in Pershing County.”
2. Mitchell Sprinted Past Fire Crews but It’s Possible He Tripped
As TMZ put it, “a guy literally sprinted past fire crews Saturday night that were stationed around one of the giant burning man structures in Nevada, leaving him engulfed in flames. Firefighters leaped to the rescue and treated him on the scene.”
TMZ noted: “Photos of the incident were captured, and they’re pretty graphic. You see what appears to be a long haired man running full force into the blaze … and then tripping and falling with fire rescuers close behind.”
According to RGJ, it’s not clear yet why Mitchell ran into the fire. “It remains unclear whether Mitchell was trying to run into the fire or tripped and fell into it while trying to avoid security staff,” the newspaper reported.
The man was rescued from the blaze, but he later died. According to USA Today, Black Rock City fire personnel pulled the man out of the flames.
“About 10:20 p.m. Saturday, Mitchell broke through two levels of safety perimeters at the Northern Nevada festival and ran straight into the active fire,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
3. Mitchell Tested Negative for Alcohol Use After the Tragedy & Was at His First Burning Man
The Review Journal reported that Mitchell tested negative for alcohol after the incident, but toxicology tests for other substances are pending. According to The Associated Press, it was the first time Mitchell had attended Burning Man.
Burning Man is an annual event that draws thousands of people.
“The annual arts festival in the Black Rock Desert attracts 70,000 to the city on a dry lake bed two hours north of Reno. The week-long gathering culminates with the burning of a wooden statue, which was 40 feet tall this year,” USA Today reported.
The images spread throughout the world.
More than 70,000 people attended the festival, SFgate reported.
4. The Festival Was Filled With Bad Omens This Year
There were other bad omens at the festival this year.
“The nine-day festival in northern Nevada was briefly hampered when a lightning-sparked wildfire temporarily shut down Burning Man’s main travel route last week,” according to SFGate.
5. Aaron Mitchell Was Airlifted to a Hospital
Rescuers managed to get the man out of the fire and he was airlifted to an area hospital, but the sheriff later reported that he had died.
According to The Review Journal, “His severe burns were treated on the scene before being airlifted to the University of California, Davis, the closest burn treatment center. Mitchell was pronounced dead just before 6:30 a.m. Sunday.”