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Desperate 911 Call: First Glimpse Into Angel Valley Sweat Lodge Deaths

(AP/Tom Tingle, Arizona Republic)
Photo: Investigators look at an Angel Valley Retreat "sweat lodge."

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (CBS/AP) A newly released 911 call is now offering a first glimpse into what really happened inside an Arizona sweat lodge, leaving two people dead and more hospitalized.

KPHO: 911 Calls From Sweat Lodge Incident (Mp3)

"Two people aren't breathing," the caller said while panting. "Two have no pulse."

Those two people were 38-year-old Kirby Brown of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee. They died shortly after emergency workers removed them from the sweat lodge on Oct. 8.

Brown and Shore and more than 50 others had come to Angel Valley Resort in Sedona, Ariz., to listen to the teachings of spiritual and financial guru James Arthur Ray.

Participants had fasted for 36 hours as part of a personal and spiritual quest in the wilderness before entering a 415-square-foot makeshift structure of wood and fabric that was filled with fire-heated stones.

It's not clear what type of financial wizardry Ray was offering inside the super-heated tent. Perhaps he was explaining how it's possible to get scores of people to pay up to $10,000 for a two-day retreat in the desert.

At those rates, the deadly retreat earned around half-a-million in revenue. It's not clear if Ray returned the funds to the victims' survivors. Neither his company nor his press agency returned phone messages from Crimesider.

(JamesRay.com)
Photo: James Arthur Ray.

On the day in question, between 55 and 65 participants had eaten a breakfast buffet after a 36-hour fast, and entered the tent around 3 p.m.

Two hours later a 911 call was made which said two people had no pulse and weren't breathing.

"They're both unconscious, no pulse, they're not breathing," said the 911 caller. "There's a lot of people here."

Police said participants were highly encouraged, but not forced, to remain inside the crudely built sweat lodge for the entire two-hour ceremony.

Fire department reports released Tuesday show the incident wasn't the first involving a sweat lodge ceremony at the resort.

Verde Valley Fire Chief Jerry Doerksen said his department responded to a 911 call in October 2005 about a person who was unconscious after being in a sweat lodge.

Angel Valley resort owner Amayra Hamilton confirmed that Ray was leading the ceremony during the 2005 event.

Autopsies on Brown and Shore were conducted, but the results are being withheld pending additional tests. Carbon monoxide poisoning was ruled out as a cause of the deaths and illnesses.

Meanwhile, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office continued to investigate last week's ceremony to determine if criminal negligence played a role in the deaths or illnesses. No charges have been filed.

KPHO: 911 Calls From Sweat Lodge Incident (Mp3)

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
October 13, 2009 - Angel Valley Sweat Lodge Deaths: Owner Didn't Have Permits
October 12, 2009 - Sweat Lodge Death Investigation Turns to Self-Help Guru James Arthur Ray
October 12, 2009 - Family Says New Yorker Kirby Brown was in Great Shape before Mysterious Sweat Lodge Death
October 9, 2009 - Angel Valley Resort: Two Dead, Many Hospitalized in Sedona Sweat Lodge Illness

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