Ex­plod­ing vape pen killed Florida man

The Maui News - - NATION/IN BRIEF -

ST. PETERS­BURG, Fla. — An ex­plod­ing vape pen hurled frag­ments into a Florida man’s head, killing him and start­ing a fire that burned most of his body, an au­topsy re­port said.

The Pinel­las-Pasco Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner’s au­topsy re­port re­leased Tues­day con­firms the vape pen was re­spon­si­ble for the May 5 death of Tall­madge D’Elia, 38, in St. Peters­burg.

Such ac­ci­dents aren’t un­heard of: Ac­cord­ing to a U.S. Fire Ad­min­is­tra­tion re­port , at least 195 elec­tronic cig­a­rettes ex­ploded or caught fire from 2009 to 2016, and while no deaths were recorded in that time, the ex­plo­sions caused 133 in­juries, 38 of them se­vere.

Fire­fight­ers found D’Elia in­side his burn­ing home, the Tampa Bay Times re­ported. Of­fi­cials found “ex­ten­sive” fire dam­age in D’Elia’s bed­room, where his body was found, but min­i­mal smoke, the re­port said.

The ex­plo­sion sent two pieces of the vape pen into the D’Elia’s cra­nium, the au­topsy found. The re­port listed the cause of death as “pro­jec­tile wound of the head.” He also suf­fered burns on about 80 per­cent of his body. The death was ruled an ac­ci­dent.

The vape was man­u­fac­tured by the Philip­pines-based Smok-E Moun­tain. A com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tive told WFTS news that their de­vices do not ex­plode. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive said it was likely an at­om­izer — the part a per­son in­serts into their mouth — or a bat­tery. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive said they’ve had prob­lems with other com­pa­nies cloning their bat­ter­ies, which makes them less safe. The com­pany wanted to see pho­tos of the de­vice that was used by D’Elia.

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion has said it’s not clear what causes some vape pens to ex­plode, but it could stem from bat­tery-re­lated is­sues.

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