As he had done countless times before, the 23-year-old went out for a quick smoke break. Only James uses an e-cigarette, and when he took a few puffs out of it, the vape exploded.
“It’s just a normal day,” explained James to Fox 13. “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.”
As Fox 13 reports, James’ injuries were so severe he was airlifted to the University of Alabama’s burn unit, where he would spent weeks in the intensive care unit. James’ parents were shocked when they saw the condition of their son.
Ed, James’ father, tells Fox 13 that his son suffered a fractured neck and finger, the explosion blew a whole in the roof of his mouth and caused burns to his neck, face, hands and chest.
“[The explosion] forced his front tooth up into his gum — out of sight — and chipped the other one and damaged a few other lower teeth,” Ed tells Fox 13.
The sight of seeing their son hooked up to tubes and monitors was hard for his mother, Beth, to handle.
Now, both James and his parents are telling his story to help bring awareness to the dangers of vaping.
“It hurt to see him with a tube and all,” Beth explains. “He was restrained but they sedated him. Just to see him go through it was tough.”
Thankfully, James is now back home with his parents where he will continue to recover.
His injuries left him with a lisp and up until now, he has been on a liquid diet. Beth tells Fox 13 that due to the extensive damage done to James’ mouth, he will eventually be fitted for a prosthetic pallet.
The South Fulton Fire and Rescue department is currently investigating what caused the e-cigarette to explode.