Sweat lodge survivor screamed, "I don't want to die!"


by Jared Dillingham

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Posted on March 10, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 10 at 6:06 PM

CAMP VERDE, Ariz. - Dennis Mehravar, a real estate agent from Toronto, spent Thursday morning on the stand at the James Arthur Ray manslaughter trial in Camp Verde, Ariz.

Mehravar spent thousands of dollars attending Ray's seminars and retreats, hoping to use what he learned to improve his business.

Mehravar told jurors he remembered throwing up, screaming and collapsing outside the sweat lodge at Sedona's Angel Valley Resort in October 2009.

After waking up, he recalled Ray sitting next to him, seemingly unaffected by the chaos around them.

"I told Mr. Ray, 'I think I died and came back,'" Mehravar said. "And Ray said, 'You were reborn. Take a shower and get ready for dinner.'"

Ray's defense attorney countered the prosecution's claims of recklessness, showing jurors the waivers retreat participants signed, warning them of health risks. They also told the court that the participants were only "encouraged" to stay inside the sweat lodge, not forced.

Mehravar has joined a civil suit against Ray, which will be settled in a different courtroom.

More sweat lodge survivors, the owners of Angel Valley and medical experts will be called to testify before the prosecution rests.