SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A woman is in critical condition in a Utah hospital after ordering a cup of sweet tea at a BBQ restaurant that turned out to be full of toxic cleaning chemicals.
FOX13 in Salt Lake City reported the woman was eating at a Dickey’s Barbeque Pit in South Jordan Sunday afternoon.
Authorities told FOX13 that within seconds of tasting the tea the woman’s mouth and throat started to burn.
The 67-year-old woman from Sandy Utah was quickly rushed to a nearby hospital, but her condition was so bad she was later airlifted by medical helicopter to the University of Utah’s burn center.
Authorities were able to analyze the drink and said it was a mixture of tea and chemicals used to clean the fryer at the restaurant.
Police said that particular mix of cleaning chemicals is a blend made up of nearly 70% sodium hydroxide which can be deadly if consumed.
“I don’t know how much was put into this drink. But from what I understand, it was a highly toxic substance, and the amount in there caused some severe burns to her mouth and her throat,” Officer Sam Winkler of South Jordan Police Department told FOX13.
“It can cause pretty severe burns, potentially burn through the esophagus and cause some severe bleeding and internal injuries,” said Dr. Spencer Smith.
The president of the company that owns the restaurant issued a statement to FOX13:
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to our guest and her family. Safety is something we take very seriously when it comes to our valued guests, as well as our own team members. At this time we are fully involved in cooperating with all parties. Out of respect for the privacy of our guest and her family, we will reserve further remarks for the time being.”
Police are now working to learn why and how this happened.
“Is this something that was stored improperly? Was it an accident? Was it intentional? We really don’t know,” said Winkler. “That’s why our investigators are looking in on this case.”