Exploding vape pen blamed for Florida man's death

Arturo Kim
May 17, 2018

The Pinellas County medical examiner said Tallmadge "Wake" D'Elia died May 5 when a Smok-E Mountain Mech Works e-cigarette acted as a projectile and penetrated his skull and brain. He also suffered burns on around 80 percent of his body. Tallmadge D'Elia's death is being called the first fatality linked to e-cigarettes, but officials still don't know exactly how it happened. The autopsy noted that the e-cigarette was manufactured by Smok-E Mountain and was a "mod" type device.

A few days after D'Elia's tragic death, an eighteen (18) year old in MI suffered severe burns when e-cigarette batteries he was carrying in his pocket exploded.

The health effects related to the ingestion of e-cigarette vapor are still being studied by government agencies.

The Medical Examiner reported that the explosion sent two pieces of the vape pen into the man's cranium.

"Lithium ion batteries fail in other devices as well, but in a laptop, it's on your lap", he said.

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In past cases where e-cigarettes have exploded or ignited, the battery is typically blamed. A U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) report, released in 2017 and covering the periods 2009-2016, attributed catastrophic injuries from e-cigarette explosions to a product design problem, i.e., using cylindrical lithium-ion batteries in cylindrical tubes. In 2016, an e-cigarette exploded in a NY man's trousers pocket.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a page dedicated to e-cigarette explosion dangers.

"No other consumer product places a battery with a known explosion hazard such as this in such close proximity to vital areas of the human body", the U.S. Fire Administration said.

"Make sure that you use the charger that comes with the battery, and make sure the charger has a shutoff device, an automatic shutoff device, so it's not overcharged".

Replace batteries when they come in contact with water or if they become damaged.

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