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Autopsy report: Exploding vape pen killed Florida man

Report released Tuesday lists the cause of death as 'projectile wound of the head'; he also suffered burns on about 80% of his body

  • Image Credit: File
  • A worker inspecting a coil, the metal heating element in an e-cigarette that produces vapour from e-juices.Image Credit: AFP

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida: An autopsy report says a 38-year-old Florida man was killed by an exploding vape pen.

The report released Tuesday confirms the vape pen was responsible for the May 5 death of Tallmadge D'Elia in St. Petersburg.

The Tampa Bay Times reports firefighters found D'Elia inside his burning home.

The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's report sas the explosion sent two pieces of the vape pen into the man's cranium.

Name of image Inside an electronic cigarette.  File

The report lists 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 Smok-E Mountain.

Battery-related issues

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

The autopsy showed that two pieces of the vape pen became projectiles in the explosion, with the mouthpiece lodging in D'Elia's brain, WPLG reported.

Between January 2009 and December 2016, there were 95 reported incidents of explosions and fire involving an electronic cigarette, resulting in 133 injuries, 38 of which were severe, the US Fire Administration said.

Experts fault the lithium-ion batteries used in e-cigarettes.

"No other consumer product places a battery with a known explosion hazard such as this in such close proximity to vital areas of the human body," the US Fire Administration said.

"While the failure rate of the lithium-ion batteries is very small, the consequences of a failure, as we have seen, can be severe and life-altering for the consumer."

The FDA offers the following safety advice:

Use vapes with safety features, including protection against overcharging.

Keep your vape covered, preventing it from contacting loose change in your pocket.

Charge it using the charger that came with the vape, not your phone or tablet charger.

Don't let your vape charged unattended or overnight.

Replace the batteries if they get damaged or wet.

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