Vaporizer smoking pens are touted as a better alternative to cigarettes, but one proved deadly for a Texas man.
William Brown did not smoke regularly, his grandmother Alice Brown said, but he purchased the item on the way to the bank, she told the Washington Post. Brown hopped into his grandmother's car and headed out to run errands one night.
He suffered from asthma and had been told that a vape pen might help with his breathing issues, Brown told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He popped into a Fort Worth store that sold e-cigarettes, lighting one up in the car after he purchased it. But he no sooner placed his mouth around the vape pen when it exploded and sent shards of metal drilling into his face and neck.
Brown's grandmother Alice Brown said her grandson managed to stagger out of the vehicle before collapsing. The 24-year-old was rushed to the hospital where he managed to stay alive for two days before passing away.
"He popped it and it exploded, and that's when it shot across his mouth," Alice Brown said.
Brown believes the device's battery malfunctioned, melting pieces of plastic from her car to the vape pen — which launched the charred debris into her grandson's face and neck. Her car was spattered with blood inside. The e-cigarette explosion was so powerful that it melted the ashtray in Brown's car, she said."When they X-rayed him, they found the stem, the metal embedded to where the blood flows up to the brain," Brown said. "I miss him already, and knowing he won't open that door and come through it ever again is the hardest part."
The cause of death was listed as stroke after the carotid artery in his neck was sliced by pieces of the vaporizing pen, the Tarrant County medical examiner wrote. He was found face down on his hospital room floor at John Peter Smith Hospital.
This is the second death from an exploding e-cigarette. The first happened to a Florida man who was pelted with shrapnel from the vape pen that also started a fire in his home.
According to a study published by Tobacco Control, there have been more than 2,000 vape pen explosions and burn injuries between 2015 and 2017. NBC shared that vaping devices should have specific safety features like firing buttons and vent holes to prevent explosions per recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency also discourages vape pen users from charging their e-cigarettes overnight.