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Woman poisoned by lye-laced iced tea at Utah restaurant, fights for her life

A relaxing lunch with her husband and friends turns into a fight for life after a 67-year-old grandmother takes a sip from her glass of iced tea. Jan Harding sipped the tea and instantly spit it out. She then turned to her husband and said, “I think I just drank acid,” according to “Fox and Friends” live on Friday morning Aug. 15.

Woman drinks lye-laced iced tea at Utah restaurant and is fighting for her life today.
Wikimedia Commons

Harding was in immediate pain as panic set in. She had filled her glass with iced tea from the self-serve beverage counter at a Utah restaurant. When Harding said she thinks she drank acid, she wasn’t too far off, according to Yahoo News today.

The iced tea was laced with the odorless chemical lye which is highly toxic. It is used as an industrial cleaner to degrease deep fryers. It is also the active ingredient in drain cleaners.

The woman suffered severe burns in her mouth and throat due to the lye-laced iced tea, reports Metro News. While this does appear to be an accident, the police will not make that their official finding until they are done with the extensive investigation they’ve embarked on at this restaurant.

An employee mistook the white powered lye for sugar when making the iced tea. Large quantities of the lye were mixed in with the iced tea before it was put into the dispensers for customers to help themselves.

Harding had the first glass of the batch and after she was burned with the lye, the restaurant employees dumped it out. Her fight for life continues today as she remains in critical condition with no changes since admitted on Sunday after going to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in South Jordan for their after-church lunch.

She is unable to talk and her husband said she is not any better than when she was first admitted. Both Investigators and the manager of the restaurant told Harding’s husband that it was a worker who accidentally mistook the lye for sugar and put it in the iced tea.

The South Jordan police are still investigating this incident by reviewing the video camera footage from that day and talking with employees who worked that shift and the days leading up to that shift. The Harding’s lawyer, Paxton Guymon said it is disturbing that the highly toxic cleaning product got anywhere near the food in the prep area.

After someone leaving the lye in the prep area then this poisonous material somehow found its way into the vat of iced tea. The lawyer said “I don’t know how something like this could happen.” In the meantime Harding’s prognosis is grim today with no improvement since Sunday.

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