S.C. Bartender's Toxic Peach Martini Sends Two to Hospital

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A woman and her sister had to go to the hospital after a bartender mistakenly dipped their martini glasses in a caustic substance used to clean the restaurant's fryer.

The bartender ran out of sugar Saturday night at Doc's Gumbo Grille downtown and asked a dishwasher that speaks mainly Spanish for more sugar. The employee gave the bartender a box containing a white substance that looked like sugar, but it was the cleaner instead, restaurant owner Doug Goolsby said.

"I hate that anybody gets hospitalized at your place of business. Mistakes happen, and it's regrettable," said Goolsby, who added the business has moved the cleaner to the basement.

Rita Hammond, 42, of Columbia, remained at Palmetto Health Richland on Monday, where the hospital listed her in good condition.

Her sister, Sandy Couillard, 43, of Columbia, was discharged from the hospital Sunday.

Couillard said her sister spit up blood after her tongue started began to peel after taking a sip of her second peach martini.

"I woke up this morning with blood on my pillow," Couillard said Monday. "I have no taste at all."

Goolsby said the bartender, who he wouldn't identify, started crying and had to go home after she was told what happened.

Columbia police and state health officials continue to investigate the incident, although they say it appears to be an accident.