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Utah grandmother in critical condition after drinking tea

(KUTV) A woman is in critical condition after receiving chemical burns to her mouth and throat from a drink at Dickey's Barbecue Sunday.

Preliminary information indicates a highly toxic industrial cleaning chemical was accidentally mixed with 67-year-old Jan Harding's drink.

Police were called to 683 W. South Jordan Pkwy Sunday. They took the woman from Sandy to a local hospital. She was 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.

SALT LAKE CITY Jan Harding and her husband had just arrived at a Utah restaurant for a relaxing lunch with friends when she filled her cup with sweet tea from a self-serve beverage station.

The 67-year-old grandmother took one sip before spitting it out and exclaiming to her husband: "I think I just drank acid!"

In fact, the tea was laced with a highly toxic industrial cleaning solution meant for degreasing deep fryers, authorities said. It contained the odorless chemical lye, the active ingredient in drain cleaners.

Four days later, Harding was in critical condition Thursday at a Salt Lake City hospital's burn unit, unable to talk and fighting for her life, lawyer Paxton Guymon said. She hasn't improved since Sunday, when she and her husband went to Dickey's Barbecue Pit in South Jordan after church.

Investigators and the restaurant manager have told the Hardings that a worker mistook the cleaning product for sugar and accidentally mixed large quantities of it into the iced-tea dispenser, Guymon said.
 
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