Cops: Lye caused kids' burned throats at Chinese restaurant

AP News
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Posted: Jun 02, 2017 7:03 PM

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania police said Friday it was lye that severely sickened two children after drinking what they believed to be apple juice at a Chinese buffet in March.

There was no evidence the ordeal at the Star Buffet & Grill near Lancaster was intentional, and no criminal charges have been filed, East Lampeter police said in statement.

It wasn't clear if the investigation remained open or if charges could be filed later.

A 10-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl were taken March 3 to Penn State Hershey Medical Center after their mouths and throats were burned by something in their drinks.

Inspectors found lye in the restaurant and took it to the state Department of Agriculture for analysis, in addition to samples from the kids' cups and the apple juice container.

Restaurant manager Steve Weng told LNP news Friday that the crystal lye is used as drain cleaner.

"I don't know (how it got on the cups)," Weng said. "(Police) didn't find a reason. There's no reason it would be near them."

Guy Brooks, a lawyer for the 10-year-old boy's father, told the news site the boy has been hospitalized with numerous issues since consuming the caustic drink, including a for procedure on his esophagus in May.

Brooks said Friday he will be reviewing the police investigation results with the boy's father, Richard Zaragoza, before commenting.

Zaragoza said Friday his son has had trouble swallowing since it happened.

"He wants to spit everything out," Richard Zaragoza said. "He's constantly washing his mouth out."

The girl's family declined to comment to LNP and referred questions to their lawyer, who didn't return calls.