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Woman who almost died from 'toxic tea' speaks about recovery

Woman Who Almost Died From 'Toxic Tea' Speaks About Recovery

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, UTAH - The woman who drank a sweet tea that had been laced with a cleaning chemical is speaking about her experience, thanking people from all over the nation who prayed for her recovery.

"I could not have made it without all the prayers of America," Jan Harding said Friday.

Harding was at a Dickey's Barbecue restaurant in South Jordan earlier this month, when she took a sip of sweet tea. She said she knew immediately that something was wrong.

"I filled it and took a sip and immediately my whole mouth was just on fire," she told reporters.

Authorities said they believe an employee had mixed the cleaning chemical sodium hydroxide into sugar, which found its way into the sweet tea.

"It was a fire beyond anything you can imagine, worse than drinking hot coffee or something with hot spices," Harding said. "It was a fire that was just it was just all consuming in my mouth, everywhere in my mouth, my tongue, the roof of my mouth, the insides of my cheeks, everywhere."

Harding's family rushed her to a Riverton hospital, where doctors inserted a breathing tube in her throat. She said that was the last thing she remembered for six days. For a time, Harding said she did not believe she was going to survive.

"I asked God if I wasn't going to make it through this, if He would send an angel to help me with the journey because it was so hard," she told FOX 13. "I never saw an angel, I never saw a bright light. I knew, I knew I would be OK."

Harding was released from the hospital on her 46th wedding anniversary. She said she celebrated with her husband, Jim, by eating some "bland food" and dancing in her living room.

After being released from the hospital last Saturday, Harding said she still has medical care. Doctors will scope her throat next week to see how she is recovering. The perforations in her throat have healed, but she may still have scarring.

"I don't feel quite myself yet," she said. "My head has been kind of fuzzy, but I'm feeling better every day."

If the toxic tea had hit her stomach, she said doctors told her she would have likely died.

"I'm in very good care with some very good doctors," she said.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told FOX 13 on Friday he met with South Jordan police to screen the case for possible criminal charges, but he wanted more follow-up. A final decision could come next week.

The Salt Lake County Health Department said it initially responded after South Jordan police were called, but did not close the restaurant because police had seized the cleaning chemical and there was no longer an "imminent threat."

Harding's lawyer told FOX 13 that no lawsuit had been filed yet because he was going to see if they could reach a resolution short of litigation.

Harding said she is not mad at anyone over what happened.

"It's not in my nature to be vengeful," she said.

However, she did want to see steps taken to ensure it would not happen to anyone else, ever again.

"We're hoping that the restaurant industry will make changes in how they train their employees, how they store their chemicals, where they store them, how they label them," Harding said. "Put some dye or coloring in things that are not to be ingested. We're hoping in the days ahead, we'll see them become proactive because of this."

More from AOL.com:
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Join the discussion

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silkroadg September 02 2014 at 10:23 AM

WHERE is the investigation and search for the TERRORIST employee who did this?? Oh wait a minute...........my bad, the woman is WHITE so NO CRIME HERE!!! Whew! If she had been black, why the FERGUSON JUSTICE TEAM would have to divide and initiate some LOOTING LOOTING LOOTING in Salt Lake!!!

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7 replies
thorrsman September 02 2014 at 9:43 AM

And the employee who did this no doubt want to be paid $15 an hour.

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4 replies
SRJimVal2 September 02 2014 at 9:40 AM

How do you confuse cleaning chemicals with sweet tea? If it was laced, sounds intentional.

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1 reply
vafilec_39 SRJimVal2 September 02 2014 at 10:52 AM

SRJim: It said an employee had mixed the cleaning chemical sodium hydroxide into sugar. Mixed to me ......somehow sounds like it was intentional.

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1 reply
debij vafilec_39 September 02 2014 at 8:46 PM

I agree. How do you "accidently" mix sodium hydroxide with sugar? I assume they knew what was sugar, and that the socium hydroxide wasn't sugar.

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mgocean95 September 02 2014 at 9:16 AM

A bunch of sleazy lawyers raced to the restaurant hording their business cards in her face before the ambulance arrived.

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saultydog42 September 02 2014 at 11:20 AM

Sodium Hydroxide, commonly known as, Draino, manmy other drainj cleaners, also known as Caustic Soda, Lye, and is an excellent concrete cleaner. I dont see how she got thru this, she surely didnt swallow it for if she had it was almost katy bar the door for her. If she did swallow it, God surely granted her the gift to recover because otherwise she wouldnt be here today. My friends, if you have kids or anyone that doesnt have the ability to know these things, please keep the chemicals under lock for these people explore ans kids almost always put things in their mouth. Not knowing if you have left residue on the containers, kids can die from this chemical simply by what they get on their hands from that container.

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1 reply
donbanf saultydog42 September 02 2014 at 8:22 PM

Yes, commonly known as lye, present in oven cleaners. Very harsh chemical, this woman is lucky to be alive.

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tren555 September 02 2014 at 10:22 AM

medical doctors are KILLING 240 k americans every year from mistakes ( admited ) alone .
Nobody cares about it !
Medical Care is nr 1 killer in US, and not restaurants.

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8 replies
i12cae September 02 2014 at 11:35 AM

So they know what happened and who did it but no charges? It sounds intentional and attempted murder. That employee needs to go to jail.

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1 reply
msggov i12cae September 03 2014 at 12:53 AM

Rush to judgement let the system work. Just like the Brown case let the system work. It does not work fast but it works.

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saultydog42 September 02 2014 at 11:32 AM

If people on medications were to see what is actually in the meds they would understand that the food and drug industry is killing us. I was getting rid of my old photography chemicals last week when I ran across several bottles of acitic acid that I hadnt used because I only used half of what it called for in the mixtures, I simply ran the stop bath longer. While not wanting to destroy it I went to my chemical books trying to find other uses for it when to my surprise, its used in many many medicines, it smells on vinegar so if you smell that smell ots most likely photo stop bath in your meds. There are home remedies that are much better than the meds you take but they dont make the government or the drug companies billion upon billions a month so these people take these old home remedies and add preservatives and buffers to them and call them some big fancy chemical name. I am not a doctor but if I were, I would think and think again before I would give this garbage to my patients.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
2 replies
bdot157 saultydog42 September 02 2014 at 8:39 PM

The most important statement you made accurately is I'm not a doctor. Please say no more, feel free to swallow your own quack blend of remedies...........feel free !

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1 reply
saultydog42 bdot157 September 02 2014 at 9:20 PM

Who got your shorts in a wad? you have to be a LIBERAL for they are the only ones that totally disagree with anything someone else says.

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Karl saultydog42 September 02 2014 at 9:31 PM

Please do not breed.. We need your genes to stay just where they are....

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The Dilly Family September 02 2014 at 9:41 AM

She'll get millions, but will it be worth it...Not to me...How about to you?

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3 replies
Rick September 02 2014 at 9:33 AM

Toxic tea would be a vast improvement at Dickeys BBQ as their products and especially their BBQ sucks and is nasty.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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