Woman who drank chemical-laced tea improving

Attorney Paxton Guymon holds a photograph of Jim and Jan Harding during a news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Jan Harding, 67, is in critical condition at a Salt Lake City hospital's burn unit, unable to talk and fighting for her life, Guymon said. She drank sweet tea containing a toxic cleaning chemical, severely burning her mouth and throat at a Utah restaurant after an employee mistook the substance for sugar and mixed it into a dispenser, Guymon said. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Hospital officials say a woman who unknowingly drank iced tea laced with an industrial cleaning solution at a Utah restaurant is starting to recover.

University of Utah hospital officials say Jan Harding’s condition was upgraded Sunday evening to serious.

The 67-year-old woman had been in critical condition since Aug. 10, when she drank the sweetened iced tea at Dickey’s Barbecue in South Jordan, a Salt Lake City suburb. Family attorney Paxton Guymon has said the chemicals caused deep, ulcerated burns in her upper esophagus.

Guymon says Harding is now able to speak, albeit in a strained voice. Her breathing tube was removed over the weekend.

Authorities have said a restaurant employee unintentionally put the heavy-duty cleaner in a sugar bag, and a worker later mistakenly mixed it into the iced tea dispenser.

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