Two young children who were served apple juice at Star Buffet & Grill in East Lampeter Township last Friday and experienced burns to their mouths and throats. Investigators do not yet know what caused the injuries to Ginaya Mendoza, 4, and her 10 year-old half-brother, Richie Zaragoza. They both drank apple juice served in in foam cups at the Pennsylvania buffet and grill.
In an interview with Lancaster Online, East Lampeter Lt. Robin Weaver, said, “We need to determine whether it was accidental or criminal in nature, and if there is or is not a crime. We need to determine the cause so it doesn’t happen again.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture became involved in the investigation to review the liquid the children drank. According to state records cited by the York Daily Record, the restaurant failed eight of its past 14 health inspections. Police and agriculture authorities have been joined by the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office and the US Food and Drug Administration in getting to the bottom of this case.
Tonight – Hear from the Star Buffet and Grill in Lancaster after 2 children get sick drinking apple juice in the restaurant Friday night. pic.twitter.com/hebvqDpG0h
— Samantha Crawford (@SCrawford_BRC11) March 7, 2017
When police arrived at the restaurant on Friday, both young children had burning sensations in their mouths and a third child was having stomach discomfort. The children’s uncle, Luis Mercado, who also tasted the juice, noted that it tasted like acid. The group was at the venue to celebrate a birthday party. In a police press release, it appears no one outside the party experienced any issues with their drinks.
The children experienced more than mere discomfort. The 4-year-old tasted the juice and began spitting out saliva. The 10-year-old screamed after tasting it and began throwing up blood. The children were airlifted to Hershey Medical Center and are in serious, but stable condition. The press release on the incident noted that the 6-year-old and the adult male received treatment at Lancaster General Hospital and have discharged from care.
Richard Zaragoza Sr., the father of the 10-year-old, told Lancaster Online that a test performed at Hershey Medical Center revealed that methanol was one of the substances in the juice. Tests are being performed on the liquid by authorities.
Steve Weng, the manager at Star Buffet & Grill reporting on the source of the juice, said his staff purchases bottled apple juice at a nearby supermarket. It is then poured in to foam cups for service to their customers.
[Feature Photo: Patrick Geltinger/Wiki Commons]