Sweat Lodge Victims Paid Up to $10,000 to "Change Their Lives" at Deadly Retreat

How much would you pay to not eat for 36 hours and then sit in a hot steamy make-shift tent with about 60 people in search of spiritual awakening?

To be honest, that sounds worse than a prison sentence, but the participants in last week's tragic
sweat-lodge incident at Angel Valley Retreat near Sedona were willing to shell out top dollar for a "personal and spiritual quest in the wilderness."

The Associated Press reports that participants paid about $10,000 to fast for 36 hours and then essentially cook themselves in an overcrowded sweat chamber as part of a a five-day "Spiritual Warrior" retreat that promised to "absolutely change your life."

This New Age nonsense left two people dead and nearly 20 injured on Thursday.

Authorities say they were part of a group of about 60 people who participated in the retreat, which involved spending hours in a small tent made of tarps and blankets, with hot, volcanic rocks being brought in every 15 minutes to create steam. 

Something about your life may change drastically after an experience like that, assuming you aren't killed: You're out $10,000. For all that dough, you get to sit around and sweat and starve.

Sounds like a wise investment. 

The victims were identified over the weekend as
38-year-old Kirby Brown of Westtown, N.Y. and 40-year-old James Shore of Milwaukee.

After about two hours in the tent, authorities say, Brown and Shore passed out and were soon pronounced dead.

About 20 other people had to be treated for various burns,
dehydration, respiratory arrest, kidney failure, or elevated body temperature.

What caused the injuries is still under investigation. There has been no official cause of death. But it doesn't seem like a deep mystery: When you stuff 60 people into a small enclosed space with extreme heat, limited oxygen, and little ventilation, it's tough to breath.

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James King
Contact: James King