FLAGSTAFF, Arizona — The attorney for the family of a Minnesota woman who died more than a week after being overcome in an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony said Sunday that he plans to sue over her death.
Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake suffered multiple organ damage and was in a coma before she died Saturday at a Flagstaff hospital. She was among dozens crowded into the sweat lodge on Oct. 8 at a resort just outside Sedona, a town 115 miles north of Phoenix that draws many in the New Age spiritual movement.
Louis Diesel, an attorney for Neuman's family, said it's clear that appropriate measures were not taken to prevent her death.
"She left this world way too soon," he said.
Neuman, a divorced mother of three who worked as a computer data programmer, was "extremely athletic" and did not suffer from any medical problems, Diesel said.
Self-help expert and author James Arthur Ray had rented the Angel Valley Retreat Center for his five-day "Spiritual Warrior" event that culminated in a sweat lodge ceremony.
Between 55 and 65 people were in the makeshift sweat lodge over a two-hour period. An emergency call reported two people without a pulse and not breathing.
Twenty-one people were taken to area hospitals with illnesses ranging from dehydration to kidney failure. Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee died upon arrival at a hospital.
The cause of their deaths hasn't been determined. The results of their autopsies are pending further testing.
More than 100 people attended the funeral for Brown on Saturday at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Otisville, N.Y. The avid hiker and surfer who had a passion for art was also remembered as a spiritual seeker.
Services for Shore were held late Saturday afternoon at the Hubbard Lodge in Milwaukee. No one else remains hospitalized.
Ray had rented the Angel Valley Retreat Center for his five-day "Spiritual Warrior" event that culminated in the sweat lodge ceremony. Participants paid between $9,000 and $10,000 to attend the retreat near Sedona, a resort town 115 miles north of Phoenix that draws many in the New Age spiritual movement.
Ray declined to be interviewed by the sheriff's office on the night of the incident and Arizona authorities said he had not spoken to them as of Thursday. In his first public appearance Tuesday in Los Angeles, Ray told a crowd of about 200 that he has hired his own investigative team to determine what went wrong.
His spokesman, Howard Bragman, has said that Ray's team and Ray's attorney are cooperating with the sheriff's investigators.
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