Burning Man Worker Death. Rest in Peace Lonnie Richey

A guest post from A Balanced Perspective.


Image: Washoe County Sheriff’s office, via Facebook

In a most sad manner, Lonnie Richey died in the traffic accident near to Gerlach that halted Burning Man traffic for six hours. His two teen age children are heart broken over the death of their father. He was returning from his twelve hour, overnight, double shift opening the Burning Man event.

In addition to the arrests, there were two Burning Man–related deaths. The first occurred on Sunday, August 25. Lonnie Richey, a 61-year-old Nevada man, was killed in a fatal car crash on County Road 34, which is a narrow, two-lane, stretch of highway that leads to the event site. Richey, Salon has learned, was working as a flagger for traffic control for the event, contracted through a sub-agency. The Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office told KTVN that fatigue appeared to be a factor in his death.

Empathy is a very important human emotion. Empathy is not within the Ten Principles of Burning Man, but empathy is necessary for community to exist. In the place of memorializing the life of Lonnie Harris, whom died in due of assisting Burners traveling to the burn, the BMOrg has been silent in regards to his death, and their rubbish social media crew is halting any discussions upon this matter. My belief is the BMOrg instructed workers, and volunteers, to not discuss his death, desiring to prevent Burners, and his family, from learning what occurred in regards of his death.

The BMOrg website states of the ghost of Larry Harvey continues as Philosophic Director. As is most apparent in regards of their actions upon the death of Lonnie Richey, they are following Larry’s philosophic direction, of in 1996, when Michael Fury was near to decapitated in a motorcycle crash on the playa, Larry was most concerned with, and yelling, numerous times, that his death did not occur at Burning Man. My belief is empathy is most important, empathy is necessary for community to exist.

This behaviour, by the BMOrg, towards Burning Man workers, and volunteers, is not new. In Salon, Exclusive: Burning Man, a utopia for guests, can be a hell for many workers, Black Rock Ranger Kelli Hoversten bravely describes her experience with the BMOrg, after she was blinded by a laser at the Man burn within 2014. Might the BMOrg be repeating their behaviour in regards to the death of Lonnie Richey?

From Salon,

Nevada state law also requires that when an injured worker receives workers’ compensation, he or she cannot sue the employer. Hoversten connected with an executive claims consultant, as directed by Burning Man, who told her to file her claim in Missouri because that is was her permanent residence, advice she now says was legally incorrect. She says she was never told that there was a 90-day filing period in Nevada. By the time she figured that out, it was too late to file a claim. “If I would have filed in Nevada, my case would have been much stronger,” she said. “When Burning Man [tells] you that they are helping you with workers’ comp, they are not.”

Six months after the accident, Hoversten’s medical bills were piling up. In March 2015, one of her friends set up a GoFundMe to try to help her cope with the cost. At that point, Burning Man management finally took notice and offered her a $10,000 anonymous donation, attached to a nondisclosure agreement. A standard life insurance policy will generally pay $250,000 to someone who is rendered legally blind in both eyes on the job. Hoversten had two weeks to accept the offer, which she says turned into two weeks of harassment by an employee in the human resources department. She did not accept the offer.

My belief is the Burner community, artists, volunteers, and the Burning Man event, are awesome. I am in agreement with the statements, within the article, of,

“I still believe in the [Burning Man] community and the service of the volunteers as a community,” she said, adding that there is a disconnect between upper management and those who run the festival — a gulf that appears to be widening and might hurt the festival in the long run. “If they don’t start caring about their volunteers and treating their volunteers like we are human beings and have worth…”, and of

Hoversten is not the only one who still finds value in the Burning Man community. Bond, who worked at Center Camp said she wants it to be “wonderful and beautiful again,” but that would require changes in upper management. “How do you get people to not abuse their power?” Bond asked. “It feels like there needs to be a shift in the alignment of their moral fibers.”

There are numerous queries that the BMOrg has hidden in regards of the death of Lonnie Richey. Might anyone, other than the rubbish BMOrg social media crew, know the details in regards of his employment, directions, or death, might you leave a comment, purposed to assist his children? My belief is the guardians of Lonnie Richey’s children are most in need of gaining good workers compensation legal advice, purposed to assist his heart broken children in their lives.

Image: Kolo TV via Cree Adamson

2 comments on “Burning Man Worker Death. Rest in Peace Lonnie Richey

  1. I really hope his children have a lawyer RIGHT now. I am legally blind from an accident volunteering for Burning man. I have tried to get them to establish a fund for workers or god forbid a death, so that getting hurt working for them dosent leave you financially devastated! They say there is no money to help secure my financial future?
    Did they recently buy more land? The bought Fly ranch after I was blinded.
    The public line from many members of the board of burningman. That they build communities? They are going around the world talking about how they care about workers and volunteers like family?
    When are there going to take care of their now permanently disabled workers and now the financial future of his children?

  2. Thank you for posting, burnersxxx. I considered it a matter of basic human dignity and morality, a person lost his life, and his children lost their father. Kudos to @nicolekarlis of Salon for penning her reports upon these matters.

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