Kiwi Suspicious Death at Burning Man

Fatalities have become a regular thing at Burning Man; so far this year there have been two (possibly three with a motorcyclist from Reno killed on the roads outside the event), as well as a plane crash which left 3 people injured (1 seriously).

Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Medical tent to find Shane “Wingman” Billingham, a 33-year old Burner from New Zealand, dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. He was found unresponsive in his vehicle at his camp Beats Boutique. Police are treating the death as suspicious.

From Stuff.co.nz:

Shane Billingham was found dead in a vehicle at the festival, held annually in Nevada, United States, at 6.30pm on Thursday (US time).

The death 33-year-old, from Great Barrier Island, has been deemed suspicious by investigating US authorities.  

The Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office said a post-mortem found Billingham has “a concentration of carbon monoxide in his blood which would be considered poisonous to human life. Preliminary toxicology showed the presence of controlled substances to be an exacerbating factor”…

A friend of Billingham’s told Stuff the Kiwi was a “great guy” who travelled a lot and dabbled in lots of things, but loved music.
“[He was] just a joy to be around … He was very creative, loved playing and being involved in all types of music.”

A fundraiser started by Billingham’s sister to bring his body home has raised $13,795 from 186 people in 9 hours.

Great Barrier Island is the sixth-largest island in New Zealand, about 100 kilometers from Auckland. Its population is 939.

Wingman was an experienced Burner, having attended in 2014 and 2017:

Wingman at Burning Man in 2017. Source: Facebook

The Reno Gazette-Journal has an update with further details:

A spokesperson for the Burning Man organization said Billingham was discovered unresponsive in his vehicle at his camp, Beats Boutique, at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Bystanders immediately began CPR and emergency responders arrived shortly after. Billingham was then transferred to Burning Man’s onsite emergency care center where he was declared dead by an on-duty emergency physician shortly after. 

Steve MacWithey, lead of Beats Boutique camp where Billingham was staying, said Billingham was one of his best friends.

“He was one of the best people I’ve ever known,” MacWithey said, burying his face in his palms as he wept…MacWithey described his friend as a hard worker, a lover of sustainable farming and someone who could always be counted on. Billingham was tall, blonde, handsome and bore a resemblance to Kid Rock, he said.

Makeshift memorial for Shane Billingham at Beats Boutique. Source: Jenny Kane/RGJ

Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen issued a statement about the investigation into the death.

From Radio New Zealand:

Police were investigating the death as “suspicious,” Pershing County Sheriff’s Jerry Allen said in a statement.

“Preliminary toxicology showed the presence of controlled substances to be an exacerbating factor,” he said.

“Quantitative analysis of the toxicology will not be available for a few weeks.”

He said Pershing County Deputies responded to a report of a death at the festival on 29 August (local time).

“The male subject had already been transported to the Rampart medical tent, within the confined area of the festival,” Mr Allen said.

“Coroners were advised by doctors on site they had already declared the male subject deceased. The scene was secured to be investigated and a deputy coroner transported the decedent to the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy.”

An unconfirmed report suggests that he fell asleep in his car with the air conditioner running, too close to exhaust from a generator.

Source: Facebook

Rest in peace, Wingman. Kua hinga te tōtara i Te Waonui-a-Tāne.


Image: Facebook

DENIED: No Growth, and Drug Screenings [UPDATE]

The cozy relationship the extreme Far Left Progressives of San Francisco’s Burning Man Organization enjoyed with the Federal Government under Obama doesn’t seem to be playing out quite the same way under President Trump.

Last year saw massive amounts of Burner cars being pulled over on the Paiute Indian Reservation and searched for drugs, as part of the President’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. See Indians Promised They Will Shut Down the Roads – and They Delivered.

This year we had threats of a concrete wall being built to concentrate the Burners, the horrific idea of trash dumpsters at the exit gates, and private mercenary armies conducting drug searches – while on the other hand, Burning Man asked for a population increase from 80,000 to 100,000. See BMorg Outraged at $10m Bill For $42m New Revenues.

No extra $40 million for you! The growth has been denied, but the private security doing drug searches is still on the table – maybe for this year, maybe 2020.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Burning Man won’t be growing this year, but there could be at least one major change upon entry: drug screenings

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday issued the final environmental impact statement for Burning Man, denying the Burning Man organization its sought-after growth to 100,000 people but granting it more time to address a number of environmental and security concerns.

The federal agency may, however, hire a private security firm this year to conduct drug screenings. Or, it might wait until 2020, according to BLM spokesman Rudy Evenson. 

As for the growth of the event, the population cap will remain at 80,000 people … 

“The BLM and cooperating agencies could not support the event growing. The city of Reno, Nevada Department of Transportation, Nevada Highway Patrol as well as the Bureau of Land Management could not support the growth particularly because there are other events going on during Labor Day,” said Evenson.

One third of BLM law enforcement officers nationwide are required to patrol the event at the current size, but one half would be required if it grew to 100,000. Transportation agencies also want to find ways to alleviate the congestion on area roads before the BLM allows any growth of the event, Evenson said… 

In an effort to make the event safer and more secure, the BLM plans to hire a private security firm to “screen” Burners for drugs and weapons prior to entering the event, according to the report. 

In public meetings, Burners called the suggested drug searches unconstitutional.

Read the full story at the Reno Gazette-Journal

Is Trump going to build a wall at Burning Man?

Well…sort of.

No statement yet at the BJ, but some more detail was posted in the comments to this post:

Alternative D has been selected:
The event will occur with no population growth during the ten year period. This means that a total of 80,000 people will be allowed onsite until at least 2028.

In the final EIS the BLM has updated many facets of the mitigations. Listed below are some of the most contentious ones.

NAT-2 Dumpsters: This mitigation has been completely removed from the EIS. Yay.

PHS-1 Private Security at Gate: They are still requiring private security. However the contracting will be done through the BLM, not BRC. This security force will report “banned or illegal contraband” directly to law enforcement. Federal agency contracting out private security to conduct their unconstitutional searches.

PHS-3 The Wall Around BRC: The requirement has been shortened. It now just reads, “BRC will be required to implement physical perimeter barriers and controls to reduce the risk of unauthorized entry to the Event.”

PHS-4 Building Inspections: This one was loosened up a bit, fortunately. Now structures over 10 feet must only be inspected if they are for lodging and aren’t tents, RV’s, or motorhomes. Also, the inspection will be done by BRC staff, not “Nevada-certified building inspectors.”

VIS-1 Lighting: They’re letting us point our lights towards the sky. However, the BLM is going to monitor us to make sure we don’t spew too many photons.

Look for updates to this post as the story unfolds.


[Update June 15 2019 11:30am]

Volume 1 of the Environmental Impact Statement

Volume 2

Reddit thread

Some are saying that High Rock Security will be doing the drug searches.

Seems like some lucrative private security contracts will be going the way of long-time BMorg personnel

Private searches offer an interesting loophole for the government to get around the Fourth Amendment, as discussed in this 2017 Yale Law journal article:

Under the private search doctrine, once a private party has conducted an initial search independent of the government, the government may repeat that search, even if doing so would otherwise violate the Fourth Amendment. The private party’s search renders the subsequent government “search” not a search in the constitutional sense.


Currently Burning Man has a peak ticketed population of 70,000 and is allowed 10,000 staff and volunteers. They have missed out on 300,000 tickets over the next ten years, which is potentially more than half a billion dollars. I predict VIP ticket prices will increase above $2000 before the end of this period – in the past I have predicted that for 2020. We’re getting very close already: with vehicle pass, handling fees and taxes, this year’s VIP ticket is $1703.50.

BURNILEAKS: 2018 Bureau of Land Management Cost Recovery

Thanks to our source for obtaining this paperwork. Once again, the details of ticket sales are completely redacted. Why is this considered a State Secret?

BLM are expecting their 2018 costs to increase by half a million. BMorg want to know why.

Both the 2017 and 2018 events were oversold by several thousand tickets.

Charts and Tables


Pershing County generates 7,300 cubic yards of waste in a year. Burning Man generates more than that every day.

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