Barbeque wire from grill brush nearly kills woman

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LAKEWOOD, Wash. (KCPQ) — When Tammy Johnson and her husband decided to have a barbeque with their grandchild, she never realized it would change her life. A day later, she said, “I just had pain. You just wouldn’t think you would have eaten something that would cause this.”

When she was rushed to the hospital, she quickly found out it wasn’t the grilled chicken causing her severe abdominal pain. It was a tiny wire from a brush used to clean the grill.

That wire punctured her intestine. Doctors performed emergency surgery, but then a bad infection developed, and her intestines shut down. Tammy nearly died.

“It’s been very scary,” said Johnson. “Something like this happens and you think I just want to see tomorrow.”

She is still in quarantine, at St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, and on a feeding tube, 10 days after she accidentally swallowed the bristle.

She said she was shocked to find out many other people around the country have suffered internal injuries from accidentally eating wire bristles.

A teenager in Edmonds suffered the same injury last year.

The CDC issued a warning about grill brushes two years ago.

Now Johnson has a warning for everyone as we go into the Father’s Day weekend when so many will be sparking up that grill.

“There’s other ways to clean them. It’s just not worth that chance.”


  • Nancy Kennedy

    Those things are tough. I use them to strip paint from metal so I can see how they would tear up a body. Best of luck in your healing process.

  • lynnkahn1

    you solve the prob or rather AVOID this by removing the rack from the grill clean then RINSE the rack with clean water after scrubbing it then put it back on and fire up

  • lisa

    this was on the show monsters inside of me same thing happened to a young boy he got sick and that was y ,,the wire of the brush was in his intestines also

  • m Parsons

    get better soon , Wish you all the best in your recovery. We will be more cautious Thank to your information

  • Deborah Cull

    If you lay your grill in the grass over night, it will all wipe off easily in the morning. No scrubbing or brushes required. :)

  • Sandra

    Holy cow that thing looked like it was about an inch long! Seriously the problem is that she didn’t chew her food. You should be chewing your food until it is basically liquefied, at which point there is no way you could miss that.

  • Tassie Clarke

    wow seriously the woman almost died and thats all you can say * she never chewed her food properly*…what do you think she is 2? im sure by now at her age and a grandma at that ..she knows how to chew her food..some people and their dumb comments…good luck Tammy , wish you well

  • Edgar Whalen

    My wife got a piece of wire from the grill brushes parced her tongue.I cleaned the grill and cooked hamburgers.we were eating hamburgers and my wife screamed in pain telling me that something was in her tongue.I looked and could not see anything so I got a big magnifying glass and saw it sticking out from her tongue.I got a pair tweezers and managed to pull it out.Those brushes should be removed from the market before somebody dies.I called the company and they said somebody would get back to me but they never did.My wife could have died from this.When are people going to wake up .You think this will not happen to you well it can.I am glad nobody died.who ever want to sue those people who make those brushes email thanks

  • Stephen Crabbe

    This happened to me a few months ago. Luckily the wire strand caught and embedded itself in my throat. After a sleepless night I went and got an x ray, sure enough there it was. An ear, nose, and throat specialist was able to extract it with long pliers. I’m so happy it stopped there and did not enter my intestine. Do not use these wire brushes!!!

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  • Sandra S

    I was at a family bbq and I also swallowed a bristle but it got logged into my tonsil. Dr’s were not able to pull it out, so at age 44 I had to get my tonsils removed. Now you want to talk about pain and scary too because 3 days after the surgery my throat started hemorrhaging when I was at home. As I was leaning over the sink the blood was just pouring out of my mouth, but thankfully it finally clotted and stopped bleeding on its own right before the ambulance showed up…thank God! Couldn’t eat for 2 weeks because of the severe pain, then of course after it was all said and done the Dr said that a tonsillectomy is the worst/most painful surgery you could have as an adult…I agree!!! Yep they should be banned! I was feeding my 4 yr old off that same plate….what a scary thought!

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