‘Renegade’ Burning Man Reportedly Already Has First Serious Accident
Sunday was the first day of the “Renegade” Burning Man, the informal, loosely organized rogue replacement event for the officially canceled 2021 Burning Man. And Sunday night saw the first reported serious accident and injury of the affair, apparently involving a 4-wheel, all-terrain vehicle traveling at high speeds.
There are multiple reports of the incident on a private but very large group called Black Rock Plan B. (The photo above depicts the aftermath of another incident that’s occurred this year, for which there are currently no serious injuries reported.) There has been no official announcement from the patchwork of state, federal and local agencies with jurisdiction over the Black Rock Desert area (BLM Nevada, and the Washoe and Pershing Counties’ sheriff’s and police departments), but we’ve reached out to them for comment and will update this post with any responses.
Nonetheless, there are enough corroborating reports from on the ground there to confirm the outlines of the incident.
“A rolled side by side,” one poster reported, describing the certain type of off-road vehicle that rolled over in transit not long before sunset Sunday night. “A passenger got ejected. Almost a death, but survived. Be careful out here, be safe. Sending good vibes to the one hurting. We all love ya, hope you heal fast and good, you’re in our thoughts!”
A second poster followed up Monday morning with more detail. “Spoke to a volunteer medical responder who was at the scene last night,” the post says. “They told me the patient was a 70 year old male driving a customized dune buggy. It rolled over 3+ times (assume at high speed). Suffered shoulder injury and reported pain at C3-4 (spine around neck) area. Was able to feel sensations at limbs. Fire services and ambulance was dispatched (I actually saw them from my camp driving in and out). Unsure about current patient condition or medivac situation.”
The speed limit at Burning Man is typically 5 MPH, and a standard commercial dune buggy would normally not be permitted. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has also declared a 5 MPH speed limit in the area this year, but there is far less law enforcement presence this year, plus no Burning Man Rangers, and far fewer people who will yell at you to “Slow Down!!!” if you’re exceeding 5 miles an hour on the playa.
It is not unusual for there to be a serious accident at Burning Man. There have been fatalities at Burning Man in 2019, 2017, 2015 and 2014, many involving vehicles, and that’s just counting recent years. Additionally, a plane crashed in 2019, and a structure collapsed on a group of victims in 2016. When it’s all said and done, this could still end up being one of the safer Burning Man events with the fewest injuries of recent years.
But we have seen two accidents reported during this year’s first two days, that is not a promising start.