Photo: James Arthur Ray.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (CBS/AP) Beverley Bunn, a Texas woman who took part in an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony that resulted in three deaths, says the man who led the event pushed people too far, even after several participants got sick and passed out.
Photo: Kirby Brown, 38, died after an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony.The account marks a significant revelation in the investigation because it portrays Ray as driving participants to stay in the lodge despite signs all around him that the situation had gone horribly awry. Until now, few details had surfaced about Ray's actions inside in the sweat lodge.Investigators are considering bringing charges against Ray in a case that has cast a harsh spotlight on him and his self-help empire as he led dozens of people into the sweat lodge during a five-day retreat that cost more than $9,000 per person. He has hired his own investigative team to examine the tragic events. Ray led the group in chants and prayers during the ceremony, Bunn said. People were not physically forced to stay inside but chided by Ray if they wanted to leave as he told them they were stronger than their bodies, and weakness could be overcome.Bunn lasted the entire two hours, but nearly two dozen others suffered serious injuries that sent them to the hospital.Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee, died upon arrival at a hospital. Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn., lingered in a coma for more than a week before dying.Sheriff's investigators in Arizona's Yavapai County are treating the deaths as homicides but have yet to determine the cause.PICTURES: Sweat Lodge Deathsare looking into the construction of the sweat lodge, the fact that people had fallen ill at previous sweat ceremonies led by Ray and questionable medical care on site, as they try to determine whether criminal negligence contributed to the deaths and illnesses.Authorities have said a nurse hired by Ray was directing rescue efforts including CPR when emergency crews arrived. Ray is the primary focus of the probe but others also are being investigated, Sheriff Steve Waugh has said."I too want to know what happened that caused this horrible tragedy," Ray wrote on his Web site Tuesday.He vowed to continue with his work."I have taken heat for that decision, but if I choose to lock myself in my home, I am sure I would be criticized for hiding and not practicing what I preach," he wrote. PICTURES: Sweat Lodge DeathsMORE ON CRIMESIDEROctober 15, 2009 - Desperate 911 Call: First Glimpse Into Angel Valley Sweat Lodge Deaths
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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