You might have heard the news recently about Tallmadge Wakeman D’Elia, a 38-year-old man in St. Petersburg Florida who died as the result of an exploding vape pen on May 5th, 2018. The police department received a call for the fire at 9:42 in the morning.
Initially, all that was known was that the vape pen exploded in his room, caught the room on fire, and he was found dead with burns on 80 percent of his body. No foul play was suspected, but the death was assumed to be the cause of the vape pen and that it may have even caused the man to die before the fire did.
An autopsy was performed and it was confirmed on Tuesday, May 15th, that the device exploded and caused a projectile wound that penetrated his skull and brain. The explosion killed him before the fire did. This is the first ever vape-related explosion death in the United States.
The stories keep saying “vape pen”, but it has been confirmed that it’s a device from a company out of the Philippines named Smok-E Mountain. This company makes mech mods, so it wasn’t a vape pen, it was a mech mod, most likely the Vanilla mod. We also don’t know if it’s a clone or authentic since a bunch of clones are on the market. That might not make a difference anyway, since being a clone doesn’t inherently make it more dangerous.
We probably won’t ever know exactly why the battery exploded. Since he was using a mech mod, it could have been due to a number of reasons. He was killed by projectiles, so it’s assumed that the battery was in the device and being used. Something caused the battery to go into thermal runaway. He could have been firing a build that was too low for the battery to handle or he might have had a short on his atomizer. Or maybe something else.
We shouldn’t be too quick to blame D’Elia. Maybe it was his fault and maybe not. I know the vape community gets really defensive in situations like this, but a man died and that’s important to recognize.
This just goes to show the importance of mech safety and also the importance of teaching mech safety as well.
If you want to share condolences or make contributions in his memory, you can find more information here.