A 23-year-old man is in the hospital with a breathing tube and horrible face and finger burns after an e-cigarette exploded in his face.
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) September 8, 2015
James Lauria was on his work break on July 29 when he stepped away for a quick e-cigarette smoke. After the vape blew up in his face, he was left with first-degree burns and a dime-sized hole in the roof of his mouth that forces him to now speak with a lisp. The 23-year-old told Fox 5 News:
"It's just a normal day. 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."
James was airlifted to the University of Alabama's burn unit where he spent a full week in the ICU after the incident. The severity of James' injuries left his parents completely bewildered and devastated. His father, Ed Lauria, told Fox 5 News:
"He had burns to his hand and a fractured neck and finger, and burns to his cornea. It blew a hole through his pallet and at the same time, flames went down and he got first-degree burns on his chest and up on his face. It forced his front tooth up into his gum- out of sight -and chipped the other one and damaged a few other lower teeth."
James' mother, Beth Lauria, was severely traumatized by her son's injuries. She said:
"It hurt to see him with a tube and all. He was restrained but they sedated him. Just to see him go through it was tough."
As James embarks on his long road to recovery, his family wants to warn other e-cigarette users of the possible dangers. Ed said:
"Us getting the word out prevents e-cigarettes from injuring another person. I would say we have done a good thing at this point."
Six weeks after the accident, James is still unable to eat solid foods. He is waiting to be fitted for a prosthetic that will be placed on the roof of his mouth in an effort to close the hole. The exploded vape is in the custody of the South Fulton Fire and Rescue Department as the investigation continues.
Watch this video to see how many young people are smoking e-cigarettes: