MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A South Dakota sixth grader is being treated for for serious burns because of a cup of hot chocolate. Luke Mentele has a second- and possibly a third-degree burn under his netting and bandages.

He was in Mankato when it happened, staying at a Holiday Inn Express.

Luke’s mother, Melissa, said he loves hot chocolate and even drinks coffee with his grandmother from time to time. She said he knows how to safely handle hot beverages but this water was dangerously hot and her son is paying the price.

The Vikings drills are what Luke traveled five hours with his cousin and grandmother to see. But his vacation get-away giddiness ended with a trip to the Mayo Clinic ER.

“Ruined his whole vacation and the rest of his entire summer,” Melissa Mentele said.

From their South Dakota home, she described what caused her youngest child so much pain. She said Luke and his cousin got late-night hot chocolate from a self-serve machine at the Mankato hotel and the cup was almost too hot to handle.

“They bumped each other and the cup upended over Lucas’ chest,” Melissa Mentele said. “Everything blistered instantly. … His arm blistered in quarter- to dime-size blisters, the whole upper arm.”

She said he’s been in major pain.

“His skin literally melted,” she said. “It wasn’t a normal coffee burn.”

(credit: Mentele family)

(credit: Mentele family)

She said a hotel staffer said they would not help pay the medical bills. The hotel’s general manager said the well-being and comfort of guests is priority and that they “regret any injury that may have occurred at the property and are currently investigating this report.”

As for Luke, the hot chocolate means he’ll be chilling inside for a while with his mom by his side.

“My biggest complaint is the hot chocolate is too hot,” Melissa Mentele said. “Hot chocolate should be hot, but it should not be nuclear.”

Melissa Mentele said she doesn’t think a self-serve machine should have such hot liquid and it should be taken away. Doctors guess the hot chocolate that burned Luke was at least 180 to 200 degrees.

The recommended temperature to serve is about 150 degrees but can go up to 200 at some places that serve tea, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Health Department says hot beverage temperatures are not officially regulated under the state food code or the FDA.

They said they haven’t gotten a complaint on this incident, but they do plan to look into it.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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