Jan Harding was having lunch at a Utah restaurant when she sipped a glass of chemical-laced sweet tea and immediately doubled over in pain, which can be seen in the video footage below.
After pouring herself a glass of sweat tea from the self-service drink station at Dickey’s Barbeque, Harding took a sip and instantly spit the chemical–infused liquid in a nearby sink. She can obviously be seen in pain in CCTV footage.
As the deadly chemicals burned her throat and mouth, Harding attempted to rinse the toxic substance from her mouth. Other diners looked on at the 67-year-old who was hunched over in pain for about one minute before her husband came to help her.
Harding was taken to the hospital after suffering severe chemical burns to her mouth, throat and esophagus. She spent two weeks in recovery and nearly died.
Authorities have ruled that the drink station was accidentally mixed with cleaning chemicals – an accident similar to one made only five weeks before at the restaurant. According to the family that owns Dickey’s Barbeque, a former employee had mixed the company’s fryer cleaner with a sugar container, mistaking one for the other.
The toxic mix was stored in a manager’s office and was removed by an employee the day Harding drank sweet tea. In video footage of the employee’s actions, he can be seen putting seven scoops of the mixture in a separate container and placing it in the restaurant.
“We haven’t been able to speak with him, but he was the one who put this lye based cleaner into the iced tea mix,” Paxton Guymon, Harding’s attorney, said.
Harding is seeking monetary compensation from the barbeque chain and wants Dickey’s to implement stricter policies for storage and safety.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office said that it would not pursue criminal charges against the chain.