A young man from Texas died after his e-cigarette exploded while he was using it. William Brown, who was only weeks away from his 25th birthday, had set out to visit a local Fort Worth vaping store, Smoke and Vape DZ, on Sunday, January 27, 2019, after borrowing his grandmother’s car. He never actually made it into the store.
While Brown was still in the car, parked just outside the store, his vape pen exploded. The explosion was so powerful that it melted the ashtray in his grandmother’s car. According to the manager of the Smoke and Vape DZ shop, he immediately called for an ambulance after the horrific incident.
After the explosion, the young man fell from the car and tried to regain his balance before collapsing. He was subsequently rushed to a hospital and put into a medically induced coma after it was discovered through X-rays that shards from the e-cigarette had pierced his throat and left carotid artery.
His grandmother, Alice Brown, said that part of the vape pen was lodged in his throat and another piece went across his lip, cutting it. She expressed confusion as to why the doctors didn’t immediately operate on her grandson.
Brown, who was a third-generation licensed electrician, managed to hold on for two days in the hospital before he died. According to the Tarrant County medical examiner, the cause of death was a stroke caused by the carotid artery being severed after trauma from the e-cigarette explosion.
The tragic death represents the second after a vape pen exploded. As recently as May 2018, a man in Florida was killed after his e-cigarette exploded and started a fire in his home.
According to a study by Tobacco Control, there were over 2,000 vape pen explosions and burn injuries in the United States from 2015 to 2017. The US Fire Administration issued a report that blames lithium-ion batteries found in e-cigarettes for the explosions and fires that cause severe injuries from vaping.
At this point in time, the health effects of vapors from e-cigarettes are still being studied.
It is unknown what type or model of vape pen Brown used. The address of Smoke and Vape DZ was used as the location of where the incident occurred. Neither the store nor the Fort Worth Police Department issued a comment.
At around 4 AM the day after Brown was rushed to the hospital, staff found him facedown on the floor. He had suffered a stroke, according to his father, Steve Brown, who received a phone call afterward. Shortly after, the family was told that he had been moved to the intensive care unit. Brown died the next day.
Alice Brown and her son, Steve, who she helped raise William, who was called “Eric” by those close to him, say they hope his death raises awareness of the risks of using e-cigarettes.
Vape pens and e-cigarettes run on batteries and include a liquid that is heated so that an aerosol mist can be inhaled like cigarette smoke. The liquid found in the devices contains flavoring and nicotine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, more than one of 10 adults have tried e-cigarettes.