Vaper dies after ecigarette explosion

First US Vaping Fatality Used Mechanical Mod

A Florida vaper has been killed by an exploding ecigarette which caused a fire that also left him with burns over much of his body.

In what is recorded as the US’s first ecigarette fatality Tallmadge Wakeman D'Elia, a TV producer from Florida, was hit by the mod as it exploded, with shrapnel penetrating his skull and brain.

The accident also left the man with burns to much of his body after the fire in an upstairs room at his home in St Petersburg, Florida.

And the shocking accident highlights the potential dangers of unregulated mods, those without the inbuilt safety features that are found in regulated mods.

It is not known why the vape pen exploded but device makers Smok-E Mountain Mech Works told ABC News their devices do not explode, and that it is likely an atomizer or a battery issue. The company also said they've had problems with other companies cloning their batteries, which makes them less safe.

The company added that it is hoping to see photos of the device that was used by D'Elia.

Mr D’Elia’s death was recorded as ‘accidental’ in the autopsy report this week.


Mechanical Mods


Mechanical mods are very simple ecigarettes and capable of high levels of output. There are inherant dangers with any piece of equipment that uses batteries, but safely using a mech mod requires advanced knowledge of battery safety and Ohm’s law, the law that explains the relationship between current, resistance and power.  Responsible companies will advise that mech mods are not suitable for beginners.

The primary difference between a mechanical mod and a regulated mod, apart from mechanical mods’ simple appearance, is that regulated mods have electrical circuitry inside.  And that means they can include built-in safety mechanisms designed to prevent a battery discharge.

These mechanisms might typically include:


  • Input High Voltage Warning
  • Reverse Battery Protection
  • Overheating Prevention
  • Low Voltage Protection
  • Low Resistance Protection
  • Temperature Protection


A mechanical mod is a metal base that holds a battery, there’s a firing pin that allows the current in the battery to reach the attached atomiser– causing the coil to heat up and turn the eliquid to vapour. And that’s basically it.

But it’s battery-related issues that cause the most potential for danger.  Misfires, short circuits, over charged and undercharged batteries and improper resistance in the coil can all lead to a battery discharge – or more sensationally referred to as an explosion.

Other problems such as blocked airholes that do not allow the pressure to escape can cause a discharge. 

Everything with a battery has the potential for discharge.  There have been stories of laptop batteries catching fire or mass recalls over a safety issue. Perhaps the most high-profile product recall was the Samsung Galaxy phone, which at one point was banned from the cabins of some US flights.

mechanical mods