WHO: “Self-help guru” James Arthur Ray
WHAT: More than 50 people paid $9,000 apiece to cram into a makeshift sweat lodge outside Sedona, Ariz., during James Arthur Ray’s five-day “Spiritual Warrior” retreat last week. After about two hours, two men were pulled out of the sweat lodge and died, 19 others were taken to hospitals and one was in critical condition. Millionaire motivational speaker Ray refused to be interviewed by the sheriff’s office afterward and returned to his Southern California base.
WHAT’S BEING DONE: Arizona authorities allege the two deaths were “not accidental.” Investigators are looking at how the sweat lodge was designed and built, the fact that local fire officials had responded to the same retreat in 2005 to help a person who fell unconscious during a Ray-led sweat ceremony, dubious medical care at the site and questions about medical prescreening of the participants.