Florida Man Airlifted To Burn Unit After E-Cigarette Allegedly Explodes In His Face

| by Jared Keever
James Lauria In HospitalJames Lauria In Hospital

A Florida man is staying with his parents in Cobb County, Georgia, while he recuperates from injuries sustained, he says, when an e-cigarette exploded in his face. 

James Lauria, who lives in Destin, Florida, told WAGA News that he was just taking a break at work on July 29 when the e-cigarette explosion occurred.

“It's just a normal day,” the 23-year-old said. “I'm at work and things quieted down and I stepped away for a second like I always do.

"Next thing I know, it exploded and I was on my way to a hospital in an ambulance, and that is the last thing I remember.”

His injuries were so severe that he had to be airlifted to the University of Alabama's burn unit, where he spent a week in the intensive care unit. 

His dad, Ed Lauria, explained the extent of those injuries to WAGA.

“He had burns to his hand and a fractured neck and finger, and burns to his cornea,” the father said. “It blew a hole through his pallet and at the same time, flames went down and he got first-degree burns on his chest and up on his face. It forced his front tooth up into his gum -- out of sight -- and chipped the other one and damaged a few other lower teeth.”

His mother, Beth Lauria, also commented on the unfortunate incident.

“It hurt to see him with a tube and all,” she said. “He was restrained but they sedated him. Just to see him go through it was tough.”

It’s not the first time a report of an e-cigarette exploding has surfaced.

The Los Angeles Times also ran a story in March about a Santa Ana, California, man who was injured while smoking what was described as a “modified e-cigarette.”

“It was like a bomb that exploded in his face,” said Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority at the time.

Concialdi added that e-cigarette users should be careful not to overcharge the devices which could cause them to overheat. 

In April 2014, Mother Jones ran an article that described over a dozen such incidents.

“Specifically, it's e-cigarettes’ lithium-ion batteries that combust,” read the Mother Jones article. “These batteries are also found in laptops and cellphones. But with e-cigarettes, the batteries are especially prone to overheating because smokers use incompatible chargers, overcharge the e-cigarettes, or don't take sufficient safety precautions.”

The investigation into James’ injuries is still ongoing, according to WAGA. 

James’ e-cigarette is currently in the hands of the South Walton Fire and Rescue Department in Florida — the agency handling the investigation — WAGA reports.

As for James, he is still on a liquid diet. His mother said he will soon be fitted with a prosthetic for the roof of his mouth in the hope that the hole there will heal and close.

The family said they went public with the story hoping to prevent other injuries. 

"Us getting the word out prevents e-cigarettes from injuring another person,” Ed told WAGA. “I would say we have done a good thing at this point.”

Sources: WAGA News, The Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones

Photo Credit: WAGA News, WikiCommons