- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2009


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — 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, Minn., 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 Ms. 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.

Ms. Neuman, a divorced mother of three who worked as a computer data programmer, was “extremely athletic” and did not suffer from any medical problems, Mr. Diesel said.

Self-help expert and author James Arthur Ray rented the Angel Valley Retreat Center for his five-day “Spiritual Warrior” event, which 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 Mr. Brown and Mr. Shore are pending.

Mr. Ray wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that he was deeply saddened by the news of death of Ms. 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.”

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

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