Four young boys were burned by a homemade hand sanitizer they purchased in a River Vale, NJ 7-Eleven.
The boys – three 10-year-olds and an 11-year-old – were injured by a chemical reaction when they used a sanitizing spray made by the 7-Eleven’s owner, Manisha Bharade. The 47-year-old Bharade mixed the sanitizer in spray bottles that she then sold in her River Vale store for $2.50 each.
Although police don’t believe Bharade wanted to hurt anyone, she was apparently using the Coronavirus pandemic to make an extra buck.
“Let me be perfectly clear: If you try to take advantage of our residents during a public health emergency, we will hold you accountable,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.
Police were alerted to Bharade’s scheme when photos of the homemade sanitizer were posted on social media, along with pics of a boy with burn on his arm and leg. Bharade was subsequently charged with child endangerment and deceptive business practices.
A total of 14 bottles of sanitizer were sold to customers. Five of those bottles have been turned over to River Vale police. The remaining nine have not been accounted for.
“[Bharade] wasn’t trying to make a lot of money and obviously didn’t mean to hurt anybody,” a law enforcement official told the Daily Voice. “But she’s no chemist.”
Authorities are conducting tests to determine the exact ingredients of the sanitizer.
In one of the photos posted online, the sanitizer bottles can be seen on the 7-Eleven’s counter beside a cash register. The bottles have different-colored spray-pump caps, and are even labeled “airport carry-on” and “3oz mini spray.”
New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs has launched an investigation into 7-Eleven. The convenience store chain told the New York Post it is cooperating.
The Post attempted to contact Ms. Bharade, but a message left at a phone number listed under her name had not been returned by early Wednesday.