One recent incident may cause vape lovers to think twice about their favorite hobby after a Florida man was killed by exploding vape pen, becoming the first e-cigarette death in U.S. history. According to a government report, 38-year-old Tallmadge Wakeman D’Elia, a former CNBC television producer, was discovered in his home by local fighters, after neighbors reported seeing smoke and flames protrude from a window, according to local news station WTSP.
The Florida man suffered burns on 80 percent of his body, and gruesome injuries to his skull and brain. According to The Tampa Bay Times, the official cause of death was ruled an accidental “projectile wound of the head.” Medical examiners said they removed at least two parts of the e-cigarette from the man’s skull.
“Anybody who has lost a son doesn’t want somebody else to lose a child to something like this,” his father Christopher D’Elia told ABC affiliate WFTS.
The pen which caused D’Elia’s unprecedented and tragic death was an unregulated e-cigarette manufactured by Smok-E Mountain, a vaping company based in Cebu City in the Philippines. However, according to the police report, D’Elia had modified his pen, although the exact specifications are unclear. According to a spokesperson from the company, the pens have no prior history of exploding, and this incident could have been caused by the atomizer (the part of the e-cigarette a person inserts in their mouth) or a faulty battery. Smok-E Mountain claims they have had issues with other vape companies attempting to duplicate their batteries, which has sometimes led to faulty devices.
However, the vaporizer was completely unregulated, and according to its online description, the e-cigarette “does not come with safety features.”
A local vape shop owner also told ABC that he considered that particular brand of vaporizer unsafe, and would never sell them in his own shop.
“I just don’t think they’re safe enough,” explained Gary Wilder, the owner of Lizard Juice. “Any other e-cig that has a computer chip in it prevents that from happening.”
According to a FEMA report, there were 195 vaporizer explosions reported between 2009 and 2016. None proved to be fatal.
In 2016, a man’s fingernail was completely burned off, and he suffered gruesome third-degree burns after his vape exploded in his pocket at Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Last year, an Idaho man suffered second-degree burns, and the loss of several teeth, after his vaporizer exploded in his mouth.