Man dies during tribal ceremony in Wash.

Feb. 18, 2010 at 2:35 PM
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LA CONNER, Wash., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A medical official in Skagit County, Wash., said a 28-year-old man died of hyperthermia while taking part in a Swinomish ceremony.

Dr. Don Slack, Skagit County Emergency Medical Services medical director, said while taking part in so-called smoke house ceremonies, Romain James died after his body succumbed to overheating, KING-TV, Seattle, reported Wednesday.

"If a person's in an environment that's too hot, the temperature can begin to increase pretty rapidly. You can experience seizures, circulatory collapse, multiple organ failure and ultimately death," Slack said.

Additional details regarding James' death Tuesday morning were sparse as the Swinomish Tribe only offered a brief statement after the incident.

"Our condolences go out to the family," Tribal Sen. Leon John said, "and we're waiting on the coroner's report."

KING-TV said the smoke house involved in this week's incident also hosted a religious ceremony 12 years ago in which a 17-year-old boy died.

The teen's death of complications from pneumonia was investigated by FBI officials, who reportedly found no criminal wrongdoing.

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