Missing Teen Reunited With Parents at Burning Man

15-Year old Nikki Peress reunited with parents 24 hours after being reported missing.

Black Rock City, Nev. — Burning Man organizers, in conjunction with local law enforcement, successfully located Nicole “Nikki” Peress, a 15-year-old girl who had been reported missing at the event Thursday afternoon. Following an investigation by the Pershing County Sheriff’s Department, Peress’s disappearance was classified as a runaway child.

When Peress was reported missing, Burning Man initiated its missing child protocol, including an Amber Alert and citywide shutdown operations, whereby all outbound traffic and airport departures are halted. Burning Man’s Black Rock Rangers posted flyers throughout Black Rock City and distributed public service announcements via Burning Man Information Radio.

“The system worked,” said Marian Goodell, Director of Communications for Burning Man. “We have a system set up to reunite minors who have become involuntarily separated from their parents, and it’s also effective for voluntarily-separated ones. This is a very tight-knit community, and it’s gratifying that our participants really step up to help in situations like this. We’re very happy that Nikki has been returned to her parents.”

Peress was found Friday afternoon when a participant recognized her, and brought her to a Burning Man medical station, whereupon she was reconnected with her parents.

About Burning Man:
For 22 years, the Black Rock Desert outside Reno, Nev., has been home to the increasingly popular and influential Burning Man arts event. Started on a beach in San Francisco in 1986, the event now attracts more than 60,000 participants annually, from every U.S. state and 22 countries. For media inquiries, please call 415-906-2441.

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase first attended Burning Man 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art headquarters) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004-2009, then transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009 to become Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He's the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Voices of Burning Man blog, and content manager for Burning Man’s websites. He also manages the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social networking efforts.

59 thoughts on “Missing Teen Reunited With Parents at Burning Man

  • Come on, Dawn. Unless you’re privy to more information than what’s in this article, you don’t know the details of the situation. You don’t know what happened, and you don’t know what was going on with her or her family. Maybe she wanted attention, maybe she just wanted to get away, maybe she was dosed with something, maybe maybe maybe. BRC’s a crazy place, anything could have caused this. Be kind. And it’s good to know the system works, right? That’s a big feather in all our caps.

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  • Dawn, how can you make a comment like that without knowing the situation? Seems presumptuous to blame her without knowing anything other than “they think she ran away.” Maybe she was running away because she was being emotionally or physically abused.

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  • This story fails to mention that she was last seen on Wednesday afternoon, she was not reported missing for 24hrs.

    If she ranaway to party in the city she should pay some of those costs of finding her. I think picking up MOOP for a week should do it.
    Remember, she halted outbound traffic for a long time.

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  • Filled with pride that our system was so efficient in reuniting this child with her parents, way to go BRC rangers and staff! If only the rest of the world worked so well together.

    Earthboy-Fractal Nation vibe patrol

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  • Dawn… are you for real?? That is a sad comment. I can not tell you how many times I have been turned around and lost, I have lost my husband and friends more times to count, I could not find camp. No one said that she was a run away, Have some compassion people, Her parents were prob very upset. If you have children, either 7, 15 or 25 if they go missing it can be a horrible feeling. We no nothing about the story other than what someone wrote quickly about. She could have been given drugs or something as well. It is BM!! Sounds like BM did a great job and that she was returned safe to her parents. That is all that is important here.

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  • Nothing says influential, innovative, and inspirational like an Amber Alert.
    This story is a symptom of something much bigger.
    The event, in its natural state, was fun while it lasted.
    All is impermanent.

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  • one must wonder if the same effort would have been made for a missing 15 year old boy.

    everyone out there assumes that any man walking alone is a predator and looking to rape children. it’s total paranoia, and you get vibed just walking to the portapotties.

    we all know what this girl was doing out there. and now in addition to that fun, she now has the sympathy from the entire community and is a minor celebrity. win win win!

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  • @dawn

    If they try to hold her accountable for her actions, expect her to make false accusations against which ever guy/guys she was ‘hanging out’ with.

    The family is surely on a manhunt right now in order to defect their embarrassment. My guess this isn’t the first time she’s vanished. Bad attention is better than no attention for most teen girls.

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  • > Although Nikki is 15 years old, she appears to be in her late teens, early 20s
    > Last seen wearing green shirt with midriff showing
    > Has nose ring and belly button piercing
    > Wearing kidsville bracelet with kidsville CROSSED OUT

    After being dragged away from her new boyfriend/rapist as they were riding along through the desert on a killer art car, Nikki was finally reunited with her happy parents.

    When asked what happened, Nikki replied, “Stop trying to control me life!” When further questioned as to why she went missing she replied, “Whatever, I do what I want!”.

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  • After hours or intense interrogation of Nikki’s captors, it was discovered that they had indeed bound & gagged the little girl. Nikki later confirmed that the bondage and rough stuff was performed at her request and instance, and that she even signed a waiver.

    Authorities would like to apologize to the many men who were stopped, dragged out of their cars and beaten while trying to exit the event on Friday. I’m sure we can all understand the importance of never being too careful, and since it’s common knowledge that all men are predators and potential child rapists, they probably deserved it.

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  • You assholes really ought to be at the GOP convention. You’d find plenty of buddies there who think rape is a massive plot against men’s rights, too.

    Yeah, go ahead: say I’m a humorless feminist. You’re in great company. And people wonder why I both love AND hate burning man: you assholes are the reason.

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  • @phul devi

    I understand you’re upset. Some man must have really hurt you. Not all men are like that. I’m afraid you’ll never attract a husband with your attitude.

    But this case is not about you, it’s about a young child who went missing from her parents. I do understand how you can make it about yourself, but let’s try to make it about her for now. Now is not the time to be selfish. We must concentrate on other people.

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  • Okay, this is one of my friends and people like dawn I would really appreciate if you stop talking about my friend like that. She’s kind spirited and certainly not an attention whore nor a spoiled brat. Thank you.

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  • sorry, julia. just because you’re her friend, you’re in no place to try to curb people’s opinions about what is obviously a plea for attention by a very inconsiderate girl.

    her irresponsibility caused grief for many many people. including making criminal suspects out of all the single men out there, and harshing the buzz of everyone else. just because she’s your friend doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be called out on her BS.

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  • Wow, such judgment! You are absolutely allowed to have an opinion, but how about finding out the information first before we jump to accusations of rape, predatory men, runaways, spoiled brats, fascists and the GOP? Holy crap. I’m kind of impressed by how out of proportion this can get tho… :)

    All we got from this blog is: A girl was reported missing at a huge event, it was listed as a runaway, a community got together to find her, she was found later and reunited with her family. All the rest is complete speculation and opinion. EXCEPT for Julia who is a friend and says that she is “kind spirited and not an attention whore”. DONE.

    One can only speculate that we are adding our own experiences to color our opinions and from the looks of it, we’re kind of angry. I propose that we shut up and be glad that she is home safe with her family. It’s not our place to teach her or call her on anything. It’s on her family, and I can bet they are both hugging and chastising her.

    I for one am glad she’s safe regardless of why.

    Can’t WAIT for the angry response! LOL

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  • “but how about finding out the information first before we jump to accusations”

    because that information will never be reported. omitting the answer to the obvious question of ‘what happened?’ from this blog post is telling you exactly what happened = angsty teen ditches parents to go party. no one is going to follow up and say that’s what happened because they’re either too embarrassed or too proud of “finding” her.

    if she was held against her will – that would lead the story, and CBS wouldn’t have deleted their original article on the subject.

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  • I am just glad that she is safe now. Who’s to say what could or couldn’t have happened That’s between her , her family and the police. I remember being 15 vividly, and defiance ,love , and curiosity are up there pretty high at that age. Just glad they found her. Peace.

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  • Unfortunately, Dawn the Other, her being found is not the end of the story. An Amber Alert was issued, and LEOs are not going to let this issue rest without bringing whoever she was with into custody for questioning.

    Either they’ve already been arrested, or there is a warrant out for their arrest right now.

    With her parents actually saying that she looks like she could be in her early 20s, do you think whoever she was with asked her for ID? No. And right now, or in the near future they are going to be treated like child rapists, and they’re going to need attorneys and a whole lot of legal defense funding.

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  • issuing and AMBER Alert is very serious. it’s called an ‘Child Abduction Emergency’, and before issuing an alert like this, there needs to be evidence of an abduction. simply that a child (especially 15) simply hasn’t checked in for 24 hours is NOT sufficient activation criteria.

    this kind of thing goes straight to the FBI and all shit breaks loose once an AMBER Alert has been issued. heads will role.

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  • Wow, that’s very true, Timmy and Bunny. It is going to get ugly. (or is already) I am not a parent, but if i was, i’m pretty darn sure i would not allow a 15 yr. old to go to an event like this. Yeah looking at all angles, it will be ugly.

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  • It’s amusing to me that everyone immediately attacks the 15 year old girl who went missing for being a “spoiled brat”.

    Look at it this way: This story reported her as a runaway. As bunny says, Amber alerts aren’t issued without evidence of abduction. So who really knows what happened? None of you. Wouldn’t you rather be kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it than cruel to someone who needs compassion? Even if she’s full of shit and a total spoiled brat, it’s kinder to give her the benefit of doubt than trashing her and tearing her down if something bad did happen to her. People like you drive people who have suffered to suicide because you make them feel worse about something that has already destroyed them.

    I’m not saying that’s what happened, because I don’t and can’t know what happened. The only people who have a right to decide what to do next are the police and her parents. They are the only ones with evidence and the full story. The rest of us can only speculate.

    And of COURSE they aren’t going to release the rest of the information, uana. She’s 15 years old, it’s nobody’s damn business what happened. More commonly referred to as the right to privacy.

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  • “it’s nobody’s damn business what happened.”

    as a community, we deserve to know what happened in such a serious situation that demands our resources. else, we wouldn’t be a community.

    we are entitled to answers. to ignore that, is to basically say, well – girls do whatever they want, and if there is a trail of blood resulting in men being locked away in prison because of it, well so what?

    i guess that’s what you’d prefer. not the kind of community i want to belong to.

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  • I just got back today from the burn. Thank God they found her. She was missing for over 4 days. Everyone in the playa were very worried. I came home and read this article with much relief.

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  • I really do not know where to start on this.

    I go to the airport, by myself, to leave burning man on MY plane.

    and the nice volunteer tells me I “CAN’T LEAVE” because we have a alert. Planes are allowed to arrive yet NOBODY can leave.

    So i sit there for TWO HOURS and eventually went BACK TO MY CAMP.

    I ask “what happens if i just LEAVE”??!!!

    I mean are they going to PHYSICALLY RETRAIN me?

    “No, but the FAA inspectors are here and you can LOSE YOUR LICENSE”

    =====

    Ok, enough is enough.

    1) a ‘AMBER ALERT’ to my knowledge is issued in case of EVIDENCE of a ABDUCTIION – and to my knowledge this was a MISSING PERSON and nothing more

    2) Even if this was a case of a abduction, TO HOLD ME AGAINST MY WILL AND RESTRICT MY FREEDOM TO LEAVE THE CITY???!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

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  • I really do not know where to start on this.

    I go to the airport, by myself, to leave burning man on MY plane.

    and the nice volunteer tells me I “CAN’T LEAVE” because we have a alert. Planes are allowed to arrive yet NOBODY can leave.

    So i sit there for TWO HOURS and eventually went BACK TO MY CAMP.

    I ask “what happens if i just LEAVE”??!!!

    I mean are they going to PHYSICALLY RETRAIN me?

    “No, but the FAA inspectors are here and you can LOSE YOUR LICENSE”

    =====

    Ok, enough is enough.

    1) a ‘AMBER ALERT’ to my knowledge is issued in case of EVIDENCE of a ABDUCTIION – and to my knowledge this was a MISSING PERSON and nothing more

    2) Even if this was a case of a abduction, TO HOLD ME AGAINST MY WILL AND RESTRICT MY FREEDOM TO LEAVE THE CITY???!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

    I very much respect the people the put on the event – but this was a completely intellectually vacant exercise. Here are a few suggestions for the organizers at BLACK ROCK.

    * Don’t threaten your particpants with things that you have no ability to enforce – as a pilot I lose my license if i depart? if we choose to walk out of black rock – are you going to threaten us with jail time?

    * Focus on the forrest and not the trees – the objective is to find the girl – how is keeping ME from departing the city going to help this???

    NEXT TIME – IF YOU HAVE A MISSING PERSON, SIMPLY HAVE SOMEONE CHECKING THE PEOPLE WHO LEAVE – A PHOTO OF THE PERSON WOULD BE GOOD ALSO. YOU DON’T HAVE TO VIOLATE EVEYONES INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM JUST BECAUSE YOU CANT FIND A PERSON.

    FINDING THIS PERSON SHOULD BE A COMMUNITY EFFORT, NOT A EXERCISE IN MARTIAL LAW.

    Again, hats off to you for a great event. But this is case in point why we will never have a hippie running this country.

    TRY SENDING A PICTURE OF THE GIRL OVER ‘JACK RABBIT SPEAKS’ OR SOMETHING

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  • I really do not know where to start on this.

    I go to the airport, by myself, to leave burning man on MY plane.

    and the nice volunteer tells me I “CAN’T LEAVE” because we have a alert. Planes are allowed to arrive yet NOBODY can leave.

    So i sit there for TWO HOURS and eventually went BACK TO MY CAMP.

    I ask “what happens if i just LEAVE”??!!!

    I mean are they going to PHYSICALLY RETRAIN me?

    “No, but the FAA inspectors are here and you can LOSE YOUR LICENSE”

    =====

    Ok, enough is enough.

    1) a ‘AMBER ALERT’ to my knowledge is issued in case of EVIDENCE of a ABDUCTIION – and to my knowledge this was a MISSING PERSON and nothing more

    2) Even if this was a case of a abduction, TO HOLD ME AGAINST MY WILL AND RESTRICT MY FREEDOM TO LEAVE THE CITY???!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

    I very much respect the people the put on the event – but this was a completely intellectually vacant exercise. Here are a few suggestions for the organizers at BLACK ROCK.

    * Don’t threaten your particpants with things that you have no ability to enforce – as a pilot I lose my license if i depart? if we choose to walk out of black rock – are you going to threaten us with jail time?

    * Focus on the forrest and not the trees – the objective is to find the girl – how is keeping ME from departing the city going to help this???

    NEXT TIME – IF YOU HAVE A MISSING PERSON, SIMPLY HAVE SOMEONE CHECKING THE PEOPLE WHO LEAVE – A PHOTO OF THE PERSON WOULD BE GOOD ALSO (TRY SENDING A PICTURE OF THE GIRL OVER ‘JACK RABBIT SPEAKS’ OR SOMETHING??). YOU DON’T HAVE TO VIOLATE EVEYONES INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM JUST BECAUSE YOU CANT FIND A PERSON.

    FINDING THIS PERSON SHOULD BE A COMMUNITY EFFORT, NOT A EXERCISE IN MARTIAL LAW.

    Again, hats off to you for a great event. But this is case in point why we will never have a hippie running this country.

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  • The Amber Alert system is not to be activated for a simple missing person. There must be proof of an abduction. It is a CHILD ABDUCTION EMERGENCY system. To abuse it like this is like using a hammer to squash a fly.

    Who authorized this, and with what evidence of an abduction? There should be an investigation. Abusing the Amber Alert system put other children’s lives in danger.

    No only is this an abuse of the system, it was also used to falsely detain many people at the gate and at the airport. That is a rights violation with severe penalties and could result in a class action lawsuit.

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  • Hats off to the BM system, it worked, this is over and we can all learn from the experience. There is ALWAYS a 1% lurking around trying to screw things up in any crowd, no matter how cool or advanced. I talked to one of the main drug cops on the playa, and he’d already busted gallons of GHB. Things could have gone TERRIBLY wrong, and they didn’t, so we can all count ourselves as lucky.

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  • Ranger Dave and toona, why the rape jokes? While all men are not rapists, most all rapists are men. It’s shocking when I hear similar comments trivializing rape on right wing sites, but, coming from my own community is a sad state of affairs. Thanks for confirming to the feminists what assholes men can be, even those that are supposed to be there to protect us from the assholes are assholes. I hope some evolution takes place within you two, and your buddies.

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  • Sounds like a case of overreaction to issue an Amber Alert if it was simply a runaway/missing persons case. I’m sure the recent lawsuit against Pershing County had something to do with that decision, as part of the suit is based on a local judge wanting to shut down the event due to, among other things, “harm to minors.”

    At any rate, glad the girl was found safe and sound.

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  • I’m really disgusted at some of the comments here. No one anywhere said “single men were stopped/prevented from leaving the city”. EVERYONE was prevented from leaving, so she didn’t, say, hitch a ride out (which is far more likely to be with a group of people of various genders, frankly). This men’s rights activists bullshit is really disappointing. Having worked a lot on consent culture and rape awareness stuff on the playa, including some counseling, I think it’s unfortunate that some Burners decide to perpetuate oppressive systems like victim-blaming and privileged whining rather than work to develop something different and better.

    It’s a fucking city, people. With that comes some awesome things (free medical, roads, toilets, low income tickets, art pieces) and some crappy things (cops focused on drug busts, rapists taking advantage, thieves, rules). Like any other city. Sorry that harshes your mellow.

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  • The fact that a burner recognized her and took her to the LEOs is awesome. That person is a hero to the community.

    The idea of confining people to a city is probably illegal and a better solution would be to search all outbound vehicles exactly as they do at Gate on the way in. Seems much more reasonable.

    The fact that the parents lost control of their child at Burning Man is depressing. Fortunately it wasn’t LA, Vegas, NYC or New Orleans. I think the family should look into counseling.

    The self-righteous, flippant, mean comments on here are arrogant and juvenile….the kind of chickenshit comments that chickenshits only say on the Internet. These are probably the kind of chickenshits who pissed on people’s cars when nobody was looking. You too should look into counseling; although I’m not certain there’s chickenshit-counseling for Asshole Camp because a douchebag is a douchebag and cannot change its nature.

    I’m glad the girl is alright. The city has right to be pissed off if she just skipped out with some burner and caused all of this. Not cool. Most uncool. Regardless, this situation ended in the best possible outcome and I think everybody but Asshole Camp above is relieved that it turned out this way. Cheers!

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  • There is plenty of room on all sides of gender identity for activism, but this thread is about how a pre-agreed upon system of cooperation between LEO, BLM and the ORG worked/didn’t work, not about wild conjecture or about burners attacking one another.

    It can also be about how that system can be continuously improved.

    And any public discussion, like here or on eplaya, is in the context of the lawsuit between the ORG and a very small number of Pershing County officials, some of whom would like to legally ban participants in the event under 18 and many adult behaviors as well. As they say, don’t say anything in public, including on the Internet, you wouldn’t want repeated in a court of law.

    We follow lawful instructions by police all the time, like “this road is closed”. I find it highly doubtful there is a lot of case law about closing access to BLM lands. And there is probably some fine print on the ticket about rules at the event that would not apply in downtown SF.

    How would you improve the missing minor emergency response system?

    If you were personally affected by the event, like missed a connecting flight or whatever, suggest sending a detailed personal note to the LEAL – Law Enforcement and Agency Liaison – team.

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  • What the fuck are all of you talking about “making a predator out of all of the single men”?

    Are you insane?

    I was a single men out there, and I don’t think anybody ever thought I was any kind of predator. I never got my “vibe harshed” or anything like that.

    There was a kid that ran away. That is a problem, and I’m glad the system worked and we found her.

    What she being an “attention seeker”? Yes. She’s 15. That is what 15 year olds do.

    That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have used the amber alert system to find her.

    SHE’S A CHILD, for crying out loud. That’s why this system exists. If you don’t like this, then don’t come to our city.

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  • Runaway huh? Big surprise there, you bring a 15 year old girl to Burning Man and make her stay at kid’s camp? What the hell did these parents think was going to happen? Of course she’s going to leave your boring asses and go explore the mind blowing party raging all around her.

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  • A few facts from a reliable source:

    1. Nikki was at Burning Man with just her father, who had disappeared himself for long periods of time himself during the week.

    2. Cars were allowed to leave the event while she was missing, but every car was searched.

    3. Both Nikki and her father left the event soon after she was found.

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  • The comments here are awesome. You be the people running BRC and find out there is a 15 year old girl on the rampage. You bet your sweet bippy you’d issue the yellow alert or the red one or whatever one you could issue. Because the headline:” 15 year old girl gang raped at Burning Man” is the end of the paycheck. Period.

    Like every other decision at BM, the LLC has their own interests in mind. They could care less if you are inconvenienced.

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  • I would like to comment on the comments of others in this anonymous internets about the behaviors of strangers in a temporary city populated by persons who use aliases. I comment because I am important.

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  • Looks to me some people here have taken back to the default world with gusto. Try to keep the playa at heart, is all I can say.

    I am happy she was found. The circumstances really don’t matter. All that matters is that a minor went missing, and was subsequently found, which IMO is pretty amazing, and a testament to BMORG policies.

    Love & Peace

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  • I say….
    Let professionals do what they are supposed to do. In this case, the protection of a young girl was of essence. The fact that she could have been drugged out and in a tent for days witout assistance is enough to make one think. I applaud those that take safety of a community seriously and volunteer to keep it safe. I will assume that if this was YOUR child, you would expect to get help…no?

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  • Out of allllllllllllll the kids & teens that go to BM with their folks this is seriously the FIRST kid to go missing? Wow, kudos people….that’s amazing – not because of “male pervs” but just the environment is brutal especially for newbies.

    Adapt & evolve, that’s been the way of things hasn’t it?

    Kids can always be trusted….to be kids.

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  • According to a post that led me here the girl doped up on ketamine in a guys tent who is known for being date rapey. Can’t verify the veracity of it but the poster claimed he was camping with the guy and is trying to figure out how much impact this had to the event. Given this and the 19 year old girl who was raped this year it seems people woul be a little more sympathetic and interested in first finding out the what really happened before trashing on some 15 year old girl for being an attention whore (the above information is just hearsay as far as I’m concerned, but it was the first I’d heard of it and seems worth investigating).

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  • “They gave me the LSD and they took me to the hotel,” “I don’t know what they done to me, but I remember, it was horrible.” “They gave you what?” says the judge. “L.. S… D.” “CASTRATION!” “DOUBLE CASTRATION!”

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  • Class action lawsuit!? Are you kidding me? Read the back of your ticket.

    As a member of the BRC Gate (and my opinions are my own, not official) I am always quite proud during an Amber Alert, when our community functions as one in order to prevent even one from being hurt, if we can help it.

    Think about it this way: Someone abducts a girl or boy. They manage to get the unconscious individual to the dunes somehow. Then they leave the City with their gear and car packed, knowing how we do during an Amber Alert, and they simply go to the highway to walk back down in the dunes and retreive their abductee. That may be one way to do it … may be one of the reasons we shut down the City when an Amber Alert is on. So if you want to try thinking like a d-bag, aim lower.

    But yes, @Jessica, you make a good point. Tell all your friends who think that way to go to Coachella instead, where there’s a hugely profitable corporation worth suing. We will continue to stop the flow at the BRC gates if a parent is worried their child may be missing and in danger, if you don’t mind.

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