Widow warns others of deadly pesticide sold in soda bottles
ST. STEPHEN, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Attorney General's Office has announced that two men have been charged for selling weed killer, in soda bottles, to fellow St. Stephen residents.
In a bizarre twist, one of the men they sold it to, John Hattel accidentally drank it and died from paraquat poisoning in June of 2014.
Now, his widow is worried other people bought it and don't know just how deadly it is.
John Hattel took pride in keeping his St. Stephen home in top shape.
"He loved to work in the yard and to keep the yard nice," said Marcia Hattel, widow of man killed by paraquat.
Hattel claims their neighbor, Kenneth Beauford, started selling some sort of pesticide. It was cheaper and more effective than the over the counter product the Hattel's normally used.
"Last year, we bought two bottles," said Hattel. "The first time we bought it. it was actually in a Mountain Dew bottle. Last year, when we bought it they were in Pepsi bottles."
Hattel says the solution was dark green in color. It came in soda bottles and she claims they still had their labels still on.
"It would be easy to get it confused," said Hattel.
Hattel said she thought her husband was taking the bottles full of pesticide to the shed. However, she believes, in a moment of distraction, he accidentally put them in the fridge.
Later, driving in his truck, John Hattel drank it. Hattel said he knew immediately that something was wrong, called his wife and went straight to the doctor's office.
"He realized it wasn't Pepsi, he realized it was weed killer," said Hattel.
From there, John Hattel started experiencing shortness of breath. He made several trips to the emergency room but his condition only worsened.
"It basically ate up his esophagus, and then after that it attacks your organs," said Hattel.
Just a few days after that accidental sip, John died at Trident Hospital in North Charleston.
Hattel believes her husband's dying wish was to make sure no one else made the deadly mistake that he did.
She said he asked her to "call Channel 5."
"I'm sure that there are people who have bought this that don't know what they have," said Hattel. "It's very deadly."
Hattel fears that other families near her have it in their garage or sheds, and doesn't want a child getting into something they might also confuse as soda.
"You have it on the shelf...a child picks it up and thinks they're going to drink a Pepsi!" said Hattel.
Marcia Hattel believes much more of the poison was sold and she hopes if people do have it, they contact authorities and make sure it's disposed of properly.
Kenneth Beauford and Damon Lamonte Kelly were arrested on February 27 by the SC Department of Pesticide Regulation, the state's leading law enforcement agency for regulating the use of pesticides.
Beauford is charged with involuntary manslaughter, receiving stolen goods and pesticide control violations.
Kelly is charged with petty larceny and pesticide control violations.
Investigators believe Kelly stole the restricted herbicide, known as Gramoxone. It's main ingredient is the extremely poisonous liquid known as paraquat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, paraquat is a highly poisonous, toxic chemical used for killing weeds.
Paraquat is restricted and only those who have a proper license can use it.
The CDC says the liquid can be harmful if inhaled, swallowed or even touched.
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