Fact Check

Vitamin Water and Anti-Freeze

Did vitamin water containing antifreeze kill a New Mexico woman?

Published May 31, 2008


Claim:   Vitamin water containing anti-freeze killed a New Mexico woman.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2008]





God I wish this was NOT true!!! My friend got sick last Saturday, they thought she had a stroke then she was having heart problems, the doctors were doing all kinds of tests and found out she had been poisoned, they found something that anti-freeze has in her system. Her brother is a police officer and they did a big investigation, they found on the vitamin water that she had been drinking from the same thing they found in her body. So they checked other bottles that were in her refrigerator that were NOT opened and they found the same thing!!! She was in ICU at the hospital and on Friday night she lost her life

PLEASE WARN EVERONE YOU CARE ABOUT!!!! I don't want anyone to go through what her family is going though!! Keep her, Paula Lopez, from Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico and her family in your prayers.


Origins:   We began receiving the item quoted above in late May 2008. Per her obituary, a 49-year-old woman of the name of Paula Lopez did indeed die on 23 May 2008 in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, a small town (population approximately 3,500) about 80 miles from Santa Fe and 110 miles from Albuquerque.

At this point it's too early to tell if there's anything to the story that "Ms. Paula" died as a result of ingesting vitamin water that had some harmful element of anti freeze in it (e.g., methanol, ethylene glycol). However, the e-mail's claim that her brother, a detective with the Española Police Department, vetted this tale is bosh. Said Christian Lopez, the brother of the deceased woman, in an interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican: "Honestly, I don't think the water did this to her. We don't know what killed her." Regarding charges that unopened bottles of vitamin water in his sister's fridge were examined and found to contain something amiss, Lopez said: "That e-mail is wrong. We didn't find anything in her refrigerator. There's not even a criminal investigation on her."

As to what did cause the death of Paula Lopez, that is not yet known. A few weeks prior to her passing, she came down with what she thought was a case of the flu. During that period, she drank a great deal of vitamin water, both because she liked its taste and to keep herself hydrated during a time when she had trouble keeping down other


Her illness worsened, and she was airlifted to the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center after becoming out of breath, delirious, and combative. She was diagnosed as suffering from glycol alcohol poisoning, and treatment was begun on her immediately. Five days later, her system tested clear of that substance. Two days after that, she went into respiratory arrest, followed by cardiac arrest, and died.

According to Christian Lopez, the hospital has sent the bottles of vitamin water found in his sister's car to a lab for testing. (Those results are not yet known). He has also turned over the rest of the vitamin water found in her home to the Office of the Medical Investigator for further examination. The cause of his sister's death is still unknown.

Glycol alcohol is used in many products, including the paint used to repaint the Tierra Amarilla swimming pool. How Paula Lopez acquired it is at yet unknown.

As to what factors have fed the rumor, a woman who in the weeks prior to her death drank a great deal of vitamin water died of a mysterious illness. Someone somewhere ran these two facts together, arriving at the conclusion that the one caused the other.

Last updated:   1 June 2008


  Sources Sources:


    Auslander, Jason.   "Mysterious Death Triggers Rumors."


    Santa Fe New Mexican.   29 May 2008.





David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.