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Woman who unknowingly drank iced tea laced with lye improves

| Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, 7:51 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — A woman who unknowingly drank iced tea laced with an industrial cleaning solution at a Utah restaurant has whispered and gotten out of bed, her lawyer said on Saturday.

The progress marks the first sign of improvement for Jan Harding since the 67-year-old was rushed to a hospital nearly a week ago with severe burns to her mouth and throat, family attorney Paxton Guymon said.

The heavy-duty cleaner that ended up in the sweetened iced tea Harding drank on Sunday at a Dickey's Barbecue in a Salt Lake City suburb was unintentionally mixed into a bag of sugar, which a worker later added into the iced tea dispenser, authorities have said.

Harding's breathing tube has been removed, and she was doing well without it, Guymon said in an email.

She had not been able to speak in days, nor had she been on her feet before standing briefly with the help of nurses, Guymon said. “Everyone is more optimistic today,” he wrote. “Any such sign of improvement is good news.”

Her husband and their three adult children have been at her bedside, praying for her recovery from the deep, ulcerated burns in her upper esophagus that have left her in critical condition at a Salt Lake City hospital.

Police have determined Harding was the only victim.

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