A young former CNBC News Producer suddenly lost his life on May 5. He was active, driven and successful in his career and seemingly full of life. He had worked on many investigative news projects in his time with the network. Now after the County Medical Examiner’s office has confirmed the cause of his shocking passing, Americans need to know the horrific tragedy that happened to this bright young professional that shouldn’t have.
Tallmadge Wakeman D’Elia was only 38 years old and his sudden passing is a shock to everyone who knew him, and likely his former employer as well. He passed away under horrific circumstances and what ended his life is the first of its kind on record in the United States. However, it will likely not be the last as others have suffered recently either.
Was this a “freak accident” that could have been prevented or was there something else going on?
ABC Action News explains:
The Pinellas County’s Medical Examiner confirms a vape pen explosion is to blame for the death of a 38-year-old St. Petersburg man.
Bill Pellan, Director of Investigations at the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the report to ABC Action News on Tuesday.
Tallmadge Wakeman D’Elia, who went by “Wake,” died in a fire in an upstairs bedroom of a home located at 316 19th Avenue NE.
The autopsy report says the electronic cigarette created a “projectile wound” on D’Elia’s head penetrating his skull and brain. It’s the first e-cigarette death in the United States, according to FEMA, which keeps statistics on e-cigarettes.
The medical examiner says the vape was a Smok-E Mountain Mech Works, a type of unregulated mechanical mod e-cigarette, which in an online description says “does not come with safety features.”
ABC Action News found an online warning explaining that the vape is not meant for beginners.
“I just don’t think they’re safe enough,” explained Gary Wilder, the owner of Lizard Juice.
Wilder says he, and many other local store owners, won’t sell the “unregulated” e-cigarettes. Instead, they turn to vapes with a computer chip inside, which keeps the device from overheating.
“Any other e-cig that has a computer chip in it prevents that from happening,” Wilder added.
According to a recent FEMA report, vape pen explosions are not common, but when they do happen, the shape of the devices make them behave like “flaming rockets.”
Wilder suggests using rubber casings over any extra batteries and re-wrapping any batteries that seem to be worn down.
“If that seal is broken on the top, the negative is exposed and if you put that in your pocket, it can do the same thing in your pocket,” Wilder added.
The autopsy report does not say why the device exploded.
A representative from Smok-E Mountain tells us their devices do not explode, instead, telling us it is likely an atomizer (the part a person inserts into their mouth) or a battery issue. The company says they’ve had problems with other companies cloning their batteries, which makes them less safe. The company is hoping to see photos of the device that was used by D’Elia.
When firefighters discovered D’Elia, 45% of his body was covered in burns. The Medical Examiner says D’Elia’s cause of death is “accidental.”
Hopefully, this unfortunate accident makes people think twice before they use their vape pen or at least use the precautions the companies recommend before they do. So-called “vaping” has become a huge tren in America and beyond as users feel that it’s a better alternative to traditional cigarettes. While there’s certainly less annoyance to others not wanting to inhale other people’s cigarette smoke and therefore more convenient to tobacco users to get their fix, the devices come with great risks.
Given the massive popularity of these devices, many likely discount the danger if not used correctly and so it’s likely that injuries and even tragedies could soon be on the rise as a result.
It is awful that he died in such a horrific and tragic way. Tallmadge leaves behind a wife, Maria Lamberti. The two have been married since 2004. Our condolences go out to his family and friends at this time.