Husband of Sandy woman poisoned by toxic tea at a Dickey's restaurant speaks out

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – More tests have been done on the Sandy woman who drank the toxic tea at a Dickey's barbecue restaurant in South Jordan and the results are not good.

67-year-old Jan Harding remains in critical condition Friday night. A scope of her throat and stomach late Thursday showed that she has severe ulcerated burns throughout her esophagus.

Jan's husband of more than 40 years appeared on Good Morning America Friday and he said less than three hours after taking on sip of the poisoned tea she was fighting for her life.

"She took one sip of it and immediately began to spit, and choke and cough and gag. I asked her ‘what is wrong?’ and she said ‘I think I just drank acid,” said Jim Harding.

The tea contained a toxic industrial oven cleaner which is made up primarily of sodium hydroxide or lye.

"The terror in her eyes,” recalled Harding. “I looked down and I said, I love you and she couldn't really talk at that point, she just mouthed I love you too."

Jan is still unable to talk, eat or even breathe on her own.

The Harding’s attorney Paxton Guymon told ABC 4 News, "They're basically trying to sustain her life. She's on the mechanical ventilator for breathing, feeding tube for feeding. She's not communicating except through hand motions and head nods."

The family was hoping that since Jan didn't actually drink the tea, the damage wouldn't be so bad, but doctors who scoped her throat yesterday didn't like what they saw.

"It was bad news and it turns out that she had severe ulcerated burns throughout the upper esophagus area,” said Guymon.

Police are still investigating how this happened, but at this point it looks like it was an accident. It’s believed a worker thought the chemical was sugar and mixed six cups of it into the tea.

Guymon said, "I'm not aware of any evidence that would suggest this is intentional."

But new information, Guymon says, may show the company has some culpability.

"I’m not at liberty to share it yet, but I will say the information is disturbing to me. It indicates that the company could have and should done something to prevent this from happening."

Doctors are going to wait a couple of days to see if Jan Harding’s condition improves. If not, surgery may be required.

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