“Newly released documents, which had been sought by the Phoenix television station KPNX, provide compelling eyewitness accounts of the chaotic events during and after the ceremony conducted by Mr. Ray at the Angel Valley Spiritual Retreat Center near Sedona, Ariz,” wrote yesterday’s New York Times. Click here to read the affidavits for the search warrants, which include interviews conducted by investigating detectives, as well as an inventory of all the items seized from Ray’s offices.
The most salient information seems to be that the deaths and injuries were caused entirely by heat; also that “there was not a safety plan for the Oct. 8 ceremony.” According to Ted Mercer, who built the lodge and heated the rocks for the October ceremony, people had suffered serious injuries at the two previous James Arthur Ray ceremonies he’d assisted at; ambulances should have been called on both occasions but weren’t. He also noted that Ray’s ceremonies were longer and hotter than any others he had been involved with.
Ray sat in the shade after being told that several participants were unconscious; when someone left the lodge in distress, thinking he’d suffered a heart attack, Ray remarked “It’s a good day to die”; when told that participants inside were unconscious, he remarked “Good, good”; when asked if they could be removed through the back of the lodge, Ray said that it would be “sacrilegious” to damage the structure. Not everyone interviewed was so critical of Ray. A doctor who participated in the event as a customer and performed CPR on the victims said that Ray had been concerned and helpful; she claimed that she’d found the sweat lodge to be less uncomfortable than some saunas she’d been in.
According to several participants and staff members, Ray repeatedly told the participants, “You are not going to die. You might think you are, but you’re not going to die.”
Staff members provided more details about how Ray dealt with the fallout from the Coleen Conaway suicide in San Diego. Police also learned that 16 participants in a Modern Magick event in Hawaii in 2008 had been treated in the ER for injuries (including fractured bones) after attempting to break bricks with their hands; no nurses or medical personnel had been present at the event and no refunds were issued.