A Tampa woman went to dinner for her birthday last year with one of her best friends at a hotel in St. Pete Beach, Florida. Instead of celebrating, she says she nearly died.
“There was an explosion in my chest,” Stacey Wagers, 45, told NBC News. “I couldn’t speak. I felt like I was dying.”
In a lawsuit filed against the hotel on Friday, Wagers alleges that she became gravely ill “within seconds” after drinking water which contained liquid nitrogen.
Wagers and her friend had just finished dinner at the Maritana Grille, on the premises of the Don CeSar Hotel, on Nov. 11, 2018, when the women saw their waiter pour a liquid on a nearby table’s dessert that made it “smoke.” Wagers’ friend told the waiter the smoke effect looked cool, and the waiter then poured the liquid nitrogen into the women’s glasses of water.
“Of course I didn’t think it was dangerous at all,” Wagers said. “He had just poured it on a dessert.”
The women drank from these glasses and Wagers became ill immediately, according to the lawsuit. An ambulance was called and Wagers was taken to the ICU, where she remained for days.
Because of the liquid nitrogen, Wagers had to have surgery to remove her gall bladder. Parts of her stomach were also removed where tissue had been burned by the extremely cold temperature of the chemical. Wagers has lost over 25 pounds from the incident and will have lifelong digestion issues, according to her attorney, Adam Brum.
“You’re not supposed to just pour it in someone’s drink and allow them to just take a big gulp of this,” Brum told NBC News of the waiter’s conduct.
Liquid nitrogen is a colorless, odorless form of nitrogen that exists as a liquid at temperatures around -320 degrees Fahrenheit. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned that liquid nitrogen can be extremely dangerous if consumed.
“Both liquid nitrogen and dry ice can cause severe damage to skin and internal organs if mishandled or accidently ingested due to the extremely low temperatures they can maintain,” the FDA has said. “As such, liquid nitrogen and dry ice should not be directly consumed or allowed to directly contact exposed skin.”
Representatives of Don CeSar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.