3rd Person Dies in Ariz. Sweat Lodge; Suit Planned

By: Felicia Fonseca AP Email
By: Felicia Fonseca AP Email

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - 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 at a hospital. No one else remains hospitalized.

Authorities are treating the deaths as homicides but have yet to determine the cause. Autopsy results for Brown and Shore were pending.

Ray wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that he was deeply saddened by the news of death of Neuman, whom he had known for more
than seven years.

"Liz was an amazing woman who touched so many lives" he wrote.
"She'll be cherished and remembered by all. Liz, you're in our hearts forever. My continued love, prayers and support go out to her family in this time of grief and loss."

Neuman had attended Ray's events in the past and served as the leader of a Minneapolis-area "Journey Expansion Team," according to Ray's Web site. The teams, developed by Ray's friends and followers around the country, meet to exchange ideas on his principles.

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