Restaurant surveillance shows woman drinking deadly, poison-laced tea

toxic-teaA disturbing video captured the moment a Utah woman drank a poisonous blend of sweet tea that nearly killed her.

Jan Harding, 67, was an early arrival for lunch at Dickey’s Barbecue in South Jordan on August 10 and was the first customer of the day to get a cup of tea from a self-service dispenser, according to Fox13 in Salt Lake City.

In the video, Harding is seen taking a sip of the tea and quickly spitting it out. She is clearly in distress as she tried to rinse her mouth out.

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Harding doesn’t know it yet, but she just swallowed a toxic cleaning chemical — the tea was accidentally laced with lye, a cleaning agent the restaurant uses to clean deep fryers, Fox13 reported.

“When you watch the footage, you can see that as soon as she takes a sip, immediately, she knew something was wrong,” Harding family attorney Paxton Guymon told the Fox affiliate.

Her husband, Jim Harding, returns from the restroom to find his wife in trouble and quickly locates an employee.

It turns out a container of sugar had been accidentally contaminated with the lye some five weeks early, but for some reason was never disposed of.

“Everyone at this location knew that this bucket of sugar contained contaminated cleaner, that it was dangerous, and that it wasn’t disposed of,” Guymon said.

The store manager had quit the previous day and a corporate employee was helping out at the restaurant for the day. He was seen on video getting seven scoops of the bad sugar that was mixed with the tea, according to Fox 13.

Harding suffered severe chemical burns to her mouth, throat and esophagus and spent almost 3 weeks in the hospital, where she nearly died.

Local authorities will not pursue criminal charges, and Harding’s attorney plans to meet with the company for mediation to cover the family’s medical expenses and other damages, and to ensure that a mistake like this never happens again.

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Tom Tillison


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