TV producer Tallmadge Wakeman D’Elia, 38, was killed at his home in St. Petersburg, Florida when his e-cigarette, also known as a vape pen, exploded, penetrating his skull and lodging in his brain.
A neighbor called 911 after spotting flames in D’Elia’s house.
Firefighters found “extensive” fire damage in the bedroom where D’Elia was found. He had burns to roughly 80 percent of his body, according to the autopsy, which was just released.
The vaping device, which is not regulated in the United States, was made by Smok-E Mountain Mech Works, a company located in the Phillipines.
D’Elia is pictured here with an example (inset) of the bullet-shaped vape pens found at the Smoke-E Mountain Mech Works website.
The autopsy report, released by Pinellas County’s Medical Examiner, says the electronic cigarette created a “projectile wound” in D’Elia’s head.
According to The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security — this is the first e-cigarette death in the United States. FEMA also reported that vape pen explosions are uncommon, but when they do explode, they “can be propelled across the room like a bullet or small rocket.”
D’Elia, who went by the nickname “Wake,” worked as a producer for CNBC before moving to Florida to freelance.
His death has officially been ruled as “accidental” in the autopsy. ~Alexandra Heilbron