Autopsy: Vape pen explosion fatally wounded St. Petersburg man

Published May 16, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — An exploding vape pen launched a projectile into the head of a 38-year-old man earlier this month, fatally wounding him, according to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner.

The report, released Tuesday, confirms that the vape pen was responsible for the May 5 death of Tallmadge D'Elia, who was found by firefighters in the burning bedroom of his family home.

The explosion sent two pieces of the vape pen into his cranium, the report said. The official cause of death was "projectile wound of head" and was ruled an accident. He also suffered "thermal injuries," or burns, on roughly 80 percent of his body, the report said.

The vape pen was manufactured by Smok-E Mountain and is a "mod" type, according to the report. According to a Facebook page for the business, the manufacturer is located in Cebu City in the Philippines.

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue was called to D'Elia's home on the 300 block of 19th Avenue NE, where crews found his body.

According to the autopsy report, officials found "extensive" fire damage in D'Elia's bedroom, where his body was found, but minimal smoke.

There have been a few incidents of injuries stemming from vape pen explosions. In Idaho in January 2017, a man lost several teeth and suffered second-degree burns after a vape pen exploded in his face, according to NBC 6. And in 2016, a vape pen user in New York suffered third-degree burns after the pen exploded in his pants, NBC 4 New York reported.

According to the Food and Drug Administration the exact causes of vape pen explosions aren't yet clear; however, it could stem from battery-related issues.


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