By Journal Sentinel staff, Associated Press
Posted: Oct. 10, 200
James Shore 40, of Milwaukee and Kirby Brown a women 38, of Westtown, N.Y., died after being overcome in a sweat lodge during a spiritual cleansing ceremony near Sedona, according to authorities in Arizona.
Nineteen others were taken to area hospitals, but most were soon released. One remained in critical condition late Friday.
Shore, who lived in the Bay View neighborhood with his wife and three young children, was passionate about natural health and also his Internet businesses, said Damon Padovano, a computer programmer who worked with Shore four years ago and had remained friends.
Shore grew up in Milwaukee. He and his family lived in New Mexico, returning to Milwaukee four years ago, Padovano said. Shore had recently purchased SunAnt Interactive with a partner. He also was president of Absolute Interactive Marketing.
Shore was an easy-going guy whose business specialty was making on-line search engines work better, Padovano said.
“He had a great sense of humor,” Padovano said. “I never saw him anger. He was a nice, outgoing guy who loved his kids and his wife. He was always talking about them.”
Padovano said Shore’s father died young, and Shore was worried about how long he would live.
“He wanted to get in and out of business and just retire and spend time with family,” he said.
Shore was quoted in the Journal Sentinel three weeks ago by columnist Jim Stingl on jorts – jean shorts. Shore joked with Stingl that he thought jorts would be the in thing next year.
Authorities in Arizona haven’t determined the cause of the deaths and illnesses. The incident happened at the Angel Valley Retreat Center just outside scenic Sedona.
Self-help expert and author James Arthur Ray rented the facility as part of a “Spiritual Warrior” retreat that promised to “absolutely change your life.”
Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh said Saturday that his detectives are focusing on Ray and his staff as they try to determine whether criminal negligence played a role in the deaths. No charges have been filed.
The resort is owned by Michael and Amayra Hamilton, who have declined to comment. Ray’s spokesman expressed condolences Thursday but wouldn’t talk specifically about the deaths. Ray’s company, James Ray International, is based in Carlsbad, Calif.
Authorities haven’t determined the cause of the deaths and illnesses but ruled out carbon monoxide poisoning.
Waugh said the 64 people who were in the crude sweat lodge had fasted for 36 hours, then ate a breakfast buffet Thursday morning. After various seminars Thursday, they entered the sweat lodge about 3 p.m.
A little more than two hours later, Shore and Brown were taken out of the lodge without a pulse and not breathing. By the time rescue crews reached the remote property, other people also were experiencing medical distress.
Shore and Brown were pronounced dead when they arrived at a hospital.