Lake Tahoe food poisoner strikes again; 12-year-old victim hospitalized |

Lake Tahoe food poisoner strikes again; 12-year-old victim hospitalized

Claire Cudahy
Police believe the suspect who tampered with food at Raley's is the same man who put a substance in food at Baja Fresh.
Courtesy / South Lake Tahoe Police Department |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A 12-year-old victim was hospitalized recently after more incidents of food tampering occurred in the Crescent V shopping center — this time at Baja Fresh Mexican Grill.

South Lake Tahoe Police Department responded to a report of possible food tampering at the salsa bar in Baja Fresh on Saturday, Nov. 19.

According to police reports, an unidentified male suspect distributed an unknown substance, which had a strong chemical odor similar to bleach, on the salsa.

One 12-year-old victim was hospitalized and treated for symptoms related to food poisoning after eating at Baja Fresh on Nov. 19. The victim was later released from the hospital in stable condition.

Over the course of the investigation, police officers learned that several other incidents of food tampering had occurred at Baja Fresh in the previous two weeks, prior to the announcement about food contamination at Raley’s.

The incidents at Baja Fresh had distinct similarities between the four cases of food tampering at Raley’s from Nov. 8-15 at the Hot Wok self-serve food court.

South Lake Tahoe police officials have confirmed that they believe these incidents are related.

Investigators are in the process of getting video footage and photos from Baja Fresh. Once obtained, they will be released to the public.

The suspect was captured by surveillance cameras in Raley’s, however, and is described as a while adult male, about 5 feet 7 inches tall with a thin build. He was last seen wearing a black hat, dark sunglasses, black long-sleeved shirt, black backpack and blue jeans.

Investigators have collected many food samples from both Raley’s and Baja Fresh; they are currently undergoing testing at the California Department of Justice and Department of Public Health laboratories.

The identity of the substance is either not yet known, or is being withheld for investigative purposes.

If you have information on the investigation, please contact South Lake Tahoe Police Department at 530-542-6100 or Secret Witness at 530-541-6800.

If you believe that you have become ill due to the incidents of food tampering, contact a medical provider and the El Dorado County Environmental Management Division at 530-573-3453 or 530-621-5300.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User