Sweat Lodge Autopsies: Two Died from Heat Stroke, One from Organ Failure at Tragic Arizona Retreat

This undated photo provided by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office shows a "sweatbox" structure at Angel Valley resort in Sedona, Ariz. Three people died and an estimated 18 others were taken to hospitals Thursday Oct. 8, 2009, after being overcome while sitting in the sauna-like sweat lodge, authorities said.
Yavapai County Sheriffs Office
Sweat lodge near Sedona, Ariz. (AP/Tom Tingle, Arizona Republic)

CAMP VERDE, Ariz. (CBS/AP) According to autopsy results released Tuesday, of the three people who died after an Arizona sweat-lodge ceremony led by James Arthur Ray last October, two succumbed to heat stroke, and the other fell victim to multi-system organ failure.

PICTURES: Sweat Lodge Deaths

The autopsy showed that 38-year-old Kirby Brown of Westtown, NY, and 40-year-old James Shore of Milwaukee, both died of heat stroke, and were reportedly unconscious when emergency crews arrived at the site of the spiritual retreat near Sedona, Ariz.

The third person, 49-year-old Liz Neuman of Prior Lake, Minnesota, died after more than a week in the hospital form multiple organ failure due to hyperthermia from prolonged sweat lodge exposure.

During the Oct. 8, 2009 ceremony dozens of participants began feeling sick, vomiting and collapsing. Authorities believe self-help guru and motivational speaker Ray urged the attendees to push past their physical weaknesses, and shamed those who wanted to leave.

Ray has pleaded not guilty to three counts of manslaughter in the deaths. His trial is set for Aug. 31. Ray is currently free on bond.


PICTURES: Sweat Lodge Deaths


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