Portland, Ore. A Portland woman claims her son died during an organized spiritual retreat after being encouraged to take a powerful hallucinogenic drug.
Laura Dickson filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the excursion organizer Bonnie Serratore and her Las Vegas-based company White Flame Institute.
On June 7, 2012, Garth Dickson died in Lake Shasta, Calif. The 29-year old had been participating in a spiritual retreat led by Serratore, a self-proclaimed master shaman.
On her company website, Serratore describes herself as a natural-born intuitive specializing in healing core emotional wounding and subconscious belief systems, from this life and past.
He was looking to how to live a better life when he went on that retreat, that was his goal, said Garth's mother, Laura Dickson. He didn't go there to die.
The police report from the Shasta County Sheriff's Office shows Garth Dickson drowned along the shoreline of Lake Shasta. Toxicology tests later indicated Dickson had high levels of dimethyltryptaimine, or DMT, in his system.
DMT is a controlled substance in the same category as ecstasy and heroin.
Ayahuasca, a long-lasting Dimethyltryptamine derivative drink made from plants containing DMT, is used by some shamans in South America to provoke spiritual journeys.
One of the side effects when you are on that drug and totally hallucinating is you would not probably be able to tell the difference between the water and the air, said Laura Dickson. He would not have known where he was.
In the lawsuit, Dickson claims the use of Ayauasca was encouraged by Bonnie Serratore as a tool for accomplishing the healing.
Police reports show two months after the tragedy, a secret witness contacted police and reported that participants had used a drug similar to 'peyote' as part of the spiritual experience.
Police weren't given a name to follow up.
KGW tried to contact Bonnie Serratorre by phone and email. She did not reply.
Anything that is truly healing and helpful for people would not be a secret, said Laura Dickson. The fact that they are hiding about their practice and lying about what they are doing tells me it is not a good thing.