An investigation is underway into a New Zealand man’s “suspicious” death Thursday at Burning Man, a weeklong event held annually in the Black Rock Desert, a Northern Nevada dry lake bed.
The man has been identified as 33-year-old Shane Billingham by the Washoe County medical examiner’s office. Investigators had not determined his cause and manner of death as of Friday.
According to the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, Billingham had already been pronounced dead by medical staff within the festival grounds by the time deputies had arrived at Black Rock City, described by Burning Man officials as “a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance” about 100 miles north of Reno.
Billingham was found unresponsive in his vehicle at his camp, and bystanders performed CPR, according to a statement from the festival Friday night.
Investigators then “secured” the scene, and Billingham’s body was taken to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.
The statement cited a release from the sheriff’s office, which determined Billingham “had a concentration of carbon monoxide which ‘would be considered poisonous to human life.’”
“The cause and manner of death remains under investigation as suspicious,” the sheriff’s office said.
Burning Man 2019 began Aug. 25 and will end Monday. The annual event got its start in 1986 in San Francisco.
”The death of a member of our community will surely be felt by many,” the statement said. “Our condolences extend to Mr. Billingham’s friends, family, and campmates.”