Burning Man Victim Identified as 32-Year-Old Man as Festival 'Exodus' Delayed by Massive Traffic Jam

The Pershing County Sheriff's Office said "the unusual rain event" hampered efforts to get to the victim

<p>Kathy Baird/The Washington Post via Getty </p> Sunset at the Burning Man festival on Sunday, September 3, 2023.

Kathy Baird/The Washington Post via Getty

Sunset at the Burning Man festival on Sunday, September 3, 2023.

Authorities have identified the victim who died over the weekend at the Burning Man festival in Nevada after heavy rains trapped thousands of people in thick mud for days.

Leon Reece, 32, was found unresponsive Friday night around 6:24 p.m. local time as the area was inundated with rain, Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen said in a statement Monday night, per The Daily BeastThe New York Post and The Reno Gazette-Journal.

"Pershing County dispatch received a call regarding a male subject who was on the ground and unresponsive at the Burning Man Festival and medical personnel were administering CPR to the male," Allen said in his statement, per the Post.

Related: Death Investigated at Burning Man During Storms That Have Left Thousands Stuck in Desert

"Due to the unusual rain event happening on the Playa, access to the area and investigative efforts were delayed," the sheriff added.

Reece was already pronounced dead by the time Pershing County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at the scene, the outlets reported.

The Pershing County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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At this time, a preliminary investigation, which included witness interviews, has not determined the cause of death, the sheriff said.

However, it does not appear that the weekend weather led to his death, per the outlets. A toxicology report is currently underway.

<p>David Crane/picture alliance via Getty</p> Rainbow seen over muddy grounds at Burning Man

David Crane/picture alliance via Getty

Rainbow seen over muddy grounds at Burning Man

Related: Burning Man 'Exodus' Expected Monday as Mud Dries Up and Roads Reopen

A day after Reece died, attendees were advised to "conserve food, water, and fuel, and shelter in a warm, safe space," with access to and from the Black Rock Desert event closed due to the rainstorms that began on Friday.

CNN reported the area received two to three months' worth of rain — up to 0.8 inches — in just 24 hours between Friday and Saturday morning.

The Burning Man website describes the city as "a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance" that attracts thousands of attendees every year. Travel Nevada notes that more than 70,000 people attend Burning Man annually.

Related: Family Trying to Live 'Off the Grid' Died of Malnutrition and Hypothermia, Teen Weighed 40 Lbs.: Autopsy

Thousands were finally able to leave Black Rock City on Monday afternoon, organizers announced.

"Please know that while conditions are improving and roads are drying, the playa is still muddy and may be difficult to navigate in some neighborhoods and down certain streets," according to a Monday afternoon update on the festival's website

<p>JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty</p> Burning Man attendees walk through a muddy desert plain


Burning Man attendees walk through a muddy desert plain

Organizers even suggested that festival-goers "consider delaying your departure from Black Rock City until Tuesday 9/5," adding that it "will alleviate large amounts of congestion throughout the day today, Monday 9/4. "

As of Tuesday morning, the Burning Man Traffic account on X, formerly known as Twitter, estimated the wait time as five hours due to the "exodus" traffic jam.

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