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Jan HardingSouth Jordan, UT — A 67-year-old woman is listed in critical condition after sipping a sweet tea laced with lye at a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit restaurant.

Jan Harding was dining at the restaurant with her husband on Sunday, when she poured a glass of tea from a self-serve dispenser. After one sip, she began gagging and spit the liquid out.

I said, what is wrong?” recalled Jim Harding. “She said, ‘I just drank acid.'”

Jan was rushed to a local hospital, where it was determined that the burns were severe enough to warrant a trip to a burn unit. She was airlifted to the University of Utah’s burn unit and remains in critical condition with injuries to her mouth, throat and esophagus.

Police have determined an employee mistakenly added Clean Force Fryer Cleaner,” which contains lye, to the tea instead of sugar. The employee responsible for making the tainted tea could face charges of battery. If Harding happens to die because of the severity of her injuries, a charge of criminally negligent homicide.

Fortunately, business was slow Sunday and there were no other injuries — police assume it was a fresh batch of tea and Harding was the first, and only, guest to try it. Health department officials said despite the situation, the restaurant was safe, and was allowed to remain open.

 

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