Woman who drank toxic tea speaks out for the first time
(KUTV) Jan Harding, the woman who drank toxic tea at a Dickey's restaurant in August, spoke publicly for the first time Friday afternoon.
Jan says she is thankful and held on to faith while she recovered from chemical burns in the hospital. Jan drank the tea while at lunch with her husband on Sunday, August 10.
"I took a sip and immediately my whole mouth was on fire...I told my husband 'I think I drank acid,'" said Jan.
The second she sipped the tea she says the burn was so intense and she immediately spit it out.
Emergency officials took Jan from Sandy to a local hospital. She was then flown to the University of Utah Medical Center Burn Unit in critical condition.
Jan suffered lesions in her esophagus, despite the fact that she spit out the tea mixed with a chemical degreaser instead of sugar. At the hospital she required a breathing tube and doctors told her family it was a life or death situation.
When family members asked the doctors how severe the damage was they were not able to tell her. Doctors could not do a scope on Jan for about a week in fear they would further the damage.
"I couldn't drink my own saliva...I could not brush my teeth for seven days," said Jan.
However, doctors knew for certain Jan had not swallowed the tea and it was not in her stomach. They told the Harding family if it was, Jan would not be alive.
Slowly Jan began to recover and she was released from the hospital on her and her husband, Jim's, 46th wedding anniversary. She was surrounded by family for her trip home from the hospital. Jan and Jim celebrated their wedding anniversary by watching a movie at their home. Jan says coming home was a perfect anniversary gift.
"We ate bland food," Jan said while shedding tears of joy. "...and we danced."
The long road ahead is not over for Jan. Doctors still do not know if there will be future complications, but for now Jan feels lucky to be alive.
"I could not have made it without my family...and I could not have made it without the prayers of America," said Harding.
The Harding family says people from all over the nation who were touched by their story reached out to their family.
The Harding family hopes their experience will inspire action in the restaurant industry.
"God has allowed something into our lives to make some positive differences," says Jim.
The family hopes the restaurant industry will ensure food is correctly labeled. They suggest the industry to make changes like adding color to substances that aren't food so there is no way they can be confused for something edible.
"We are hoping some good comes from this," said Jan Harding.
The Harding family says it will be awhile before they will have the courage to go out to eat again. Jan says next time she will test the beverage with her finger.
Charges possible over toxic tea incident at South Jordan Dickey’s Barbecue
(KUTV) It may have been a most unfortunate accident, or it's possible the toxic tea that hospitalized a woman at a South Jordan barbecue restaurant could lead to criminal charges.
"We're trying to make a decision is this rises to a level of a crime," said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. "Or maybe it doesn't rise to a level of a crime, and (we can) put it to rest."
The DA said his office is looking for more information surrounding the incident at Dickey's Barbecue in South Jordan that put Jan Harding in the hospital for days with lesions to her esophagus. One sip and Harding said she felt burning and knew the drink was trouble.
2News asked Gill if charges are possible against an individual, more than one person, or perhaps even the restaurant.
"Well, the fair answer is all of the above," the DA replied.
Last January, a Salt Lake County inspection found what the health department termed a "non-critical" violation of improper labeling of food containers. A day after Harding took the fateful sip, another inspector noted "sugar containers are not labeled with the common name of the food."
Two weeks ago, Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., based in Texas, issued a statement in which it said it was "saddened by the events," but said the bad tea was an "isolated incident" at the South Jordan location.
A statement issued by Dickey's says, "Nothing like this has occurred in the 73 years we have operated. There is nothing more important to us than the trust and safety of our guests."
Dickey's also said "the independent owner" of the South Jordan eatery is cooperating with the investigation.
Gill said "all parties have been very cooperative."
Still in the realm of potential criminal charges, he identified questions before prosecutors: "Is it simply negligence? Is it criminal negligence? Is it reckless? Was it intentional?"
The DA's Office may make a decision next week, on whether or not to file charges.
Utah Public Service Commission rejects proposal for monthly fee on solar power users
(KUTV) The Utah Public Service Commission has rejected a proposal from Rocky Mountain Power to impose a monthly fee on users of solar power.
The $4.65 per month net metering facilities charge on residential homes was rejected in an order issued Friday. The charge was designed to ensure all customers fairly paid for infrastructure and grid costs, a power company spokesman said.
According to the order, the UPSC "cannot conclude that the proposed net metering facilities charge is just and reasonable" under state law.
The commission denied Rocky Mountain Power's request, but it left the door open for future action by asking for a study on energy-generating customers and scheduling a conference to present findings in November. Clean energy advocates praised the decision.
"What a bright day for Utah's future," said Sarah Wright, executive director of Utah Clean Energy, in a statement. "This order protects energy choice in Utah, and recognizes the potential solar has to benefit all Utahns."
Watch 2News at 10 p.m. for a full report on this story.
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