Utah woman severely burned when she drank sweet tea mixed with dangerous chemical

Jan Harding

A woman is in critical condition after receiving chemical burns to her mouth and throat from a highly toxic substance found in her drink at Dickey's Barbecue in Utah on Sunday, according to KUTV.

Early information shows that a highly toxic industrial cleaning chemical was accidentally mixed with 67-year-old Jan Harding's Sweet Tea.

Police were called to the restaurant Sunday. They took the woman to a local hospital, where she was evaluated and then flown to the University of Utah Medical Center Burn Unit where she remains in critical condition.

Officials say this was an isolated incident and Dickey's is cooperating with the investigation.

Paxton Guymon, attorney for Jan Harding's family, said the retired school teacher is in extremely critical condition. Doctors will perform tests to determine whether the burns caused tears in her esophagus, stomach, or lungs. If there is damage, then she would require surgery, but this is risky, Guymon says, given her condition now.

Guymon said police will complete their investigative report early next week, but he's been told an employee mixed the degreaser into the tea, thinking it was sugar. In the meantime, the big question is how someone at the restaurant could confuse a highly toxic degreaser with sugar.

"It's frightening that something like this could happen," Guymon told KUTV.