Survivor: Days of Fasting Before Sweat Lodge Disaster

Self-help guru James Arthur Ray ignored pleas to help those collapsing
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2009 7:07 PM CDT
This picture shows the road leading to the Angel Valley Retreat Center in Sedona, Ariz.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Participants in the fatal Oct. 8 sweat-lodge ceremony had already been through five days of fasting and sleep deprivation, a survivor says—and the self-help guru leading the proceedings saw their gasping, vomiting and fainting as signs of weakness and urged them to push on through it. No charges have been brought against James Arthur Ray by Arizona authorities, but Beverly Bunn’s interview with the AP hints that they have damning evidence.

“I can’t get her to move. I can’t get her to wake up,” Bunn recalls hearing of one of the 50 participants. “Leave her alone, she’ll be dealt with in the next round,” was Ray’s alleged response. Bunn, 43 also says no drugs or alcohol were used in the ceremony, and that nobody was physically forced to stay: “It was all about mind over matter, you're stronger than your body.”

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