Richard Zaragoza, Jr. and his half-sister, Ginaya Mendoza, were hospitalized after they drank tainted apple juice and suffered burns to their throats at an all-you-can-eat buffet on Friday, according to WPMT.
According to Richard’s father, Richard Zaragoza, Sr., both children were out to dinner with their mom, Virginia Davis, at the Star Buffet and Grill in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to celebrate Richard Jr.’s 10th birthday at the time of the incident.
“It was my son’s birthday so I decided to let him go with his mom, you know celebrate for a little while,” said Zaragoza. “So they decided to go to Star Buffet. That’s where he wanted. His restaurant of choice. His favorite place to go.”
Both Ginaya, 4, and the birthday boy ordered apple juice and the server brought it to them in cups — a move that the family said was uncharacteristic of the restaurant, which they’d been going to for years.
“Any other time that they brought the apple juice to us they would bring a styrofoam cup with ice and a separate drink so you can open and pour it if you want to,” said Zargoza. “You know this time they brought it already made.”
According to their parents, both children fell critically ill almost immediately after drinking the tainted beverage.
“As soon as they took a sip of it, they were throwing up and there was blood you know, and all that stuff,” Zaragoza told WPMT.
The kids were rushed to Hershey Medical Center and spent Saturday night in intensive care with severe burns of the mouth and throat, according to Lancaster Online.
Zaragoza said that although both children are in stable condition, he is still very concerned for them — especially for his son, who is still sedated with an intubation device.
“He has cystic fibrosis and diabetes, so the concerns are a lot worse,” he said.
WPMT learned from the owner of the restaurant that they had purchased the apple juice from a local supermarket.
Although the source of the contaminants still remains to be determined, Zargoza told Lancaster Online that a test from the Hershey Medical Center revealed that methanol was at least one of the substances present in the tainted beverage.
Perhaps the most outrageous factor of all, however, is that according to Zaragoza, no one from the restaurant has bothered to contact him.
“Still open for business, which is mind-baffling to me,” the irate father said. “You know I haven’t, usually when something like that happens you would think the health inspectors would go and there’d be a full blown investigation.”