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      Toxic sweet tea sends woman to hospital with internal burns

      A woman is in critical condition after receiving chemical burns to her mouth and throat from a highly toxic substance found in her drink at Dickey's Barbecue on Sunday.

      By Christina Flores (KUTV)

      A woman is in critical condition after receiving chemical burns to her mouth and throat from a highly toxic substance found in her drink at Dickey's Barbecue on Sunday.

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

      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.

      Paxton Guymon, attorney for Jan Harding's family, said the retired school teacher is in extremely critical condition. Doctors will perform tests to determine whether the burns caused tears in her esophagus, stomach, or lungs. If there is damage, then she would require surgery, but this is risky, Guymon said, given her condition now.

      Guymon said police will complete their investigative report early next week, but he's been told an employee mixed the degreaser into the tea, thinking it was sugar. In the meantime, the big question is how someone at the restaurant could confuse a highly toxic degreaser with sugar.

      "It's frightening that something like this could happen," said Guymon.

      WATCH KUTV's report on this incident