Vaping kills. It’s official. Tallmadge Wakeman D’Elia, known as “Wake”, is the first casualty of a malfunctioning vaping device recording in the United States. The 38-year-old died after his vape pen exploded. The device ruptured with incredible force, sending pieces through his skull and into his brain. If that wasn’t bad enough, the explosion caused a serious fire.
D’Elia died in the resulting fire in his upstairs bedroom in his St. Petersburg, Florida, home on May 5. The autopsy report noted the shrapnel in his brain and burns over 80 percent of his body.
“This is America’s first known death caused by a vape pen or e-cigarette,” People writes. Deaths from fires caused by cigarettes are far too common, still, yet the growing dangers of the vaping devices is taking many by surprise.
Dale Kleine, a neighbor, said she “saw the smoke coming out of the roof.”
“We were hoping that nobody was home, but then we found out that Wake was home,” she reporters. She, too, was surprised by the cause of the fire.
“Make sure that people know these things are not as safe as they think they are,” Kleine said.
“The vape pen, also known as an e-cigarette, that D’Elia used was created by a Philippines-based company named Smok-E Mountain Mech Works,” People adds.
“A representative for the e-cigarette company told the outlet that their devices do not explode, saying it was likely an atomizer or a battery issue.”
The U.S. Fire Administration cites at least 195 incidents of electronic cigarettes either exploding or catching fire over a 7 year period from 2009 to 2016. While there were associated injuries, few were serious, and none were fatal.
“D’Elia worked at NY1 News and CNBC, later becoming a Technical Production Supervisor for Squawk Box, according to his obituary,” People wrote.