This past Saturday, a person lost his life at the Element 11 Arts Festival in Grantsville, Utah. Element 11 is part of the Burning Man Regional Network, a group of organizations officially affiliated with Burning Man. A version of the event, which culminates with the burning of a large wooden effigy, has been held each year since 1998. The victim, who has been identified as a Salt Lake City resident in his thirties, broke through an established safety perimeter and entered the flames of the burning art piece.
This is obviously a terribly difficult and sad event for the global Burning Man community, the dedicated organizers of Element 11, and most especially for those who witnessed it. Our thoughts and prayers today are with the victim’s family and the Utah Burner community.
Many people came together to create a safe and enjoyable event celebrating community, art and creativity. While this is a heavy blow, we’re heartened by the fact that we’ve already seen the Burning Man community reaching out to those affected with offers of support.
For our part, our leadership has been in touch with the leadership of the Utah Regional, and we will be doing everything we can to support the community through this difficult time.
An investigation is currently underway by local law enforcement, and more information will be made available in the coming days and weeks.
Here’s some news coverage of the event:
And here’s the official statement from the event’s organizers (released Sunday, July 13):
“We acknowledge there was indeed a fatality last night at Element 11 (Utah’s regional). This is a deeply upsetting event with tragic results. Our hearts go out to the Utah community and to the attendees of Element 11. This is a tragic event, and we struggle to respond to it. We ask for your patience while we find the appropriate resources, but please know that we are committed to supporting those affected by this event in the best way we can.”
UPDATE: The victim has been identified as Chris Wallace. His family has set up an online donation campaign, if you’d like to make a contribution to help pay for his funeral and end of life costs.