It’s fair to say that most people ditch cigarettes for the electronic version because they consider it a safer option. That’s what New Yorker Otis Gooding did, though after a terrifying experience earlier this week, he may once again be keen for a long, soothing drag on the real thing.
During a shift at a wine store in Manhattan’s Grand Central Station on Wednesday, the battery inside Gooding’s e-cigarette suddenly exploded in his pants pocket, causing burns to his leg, thigh, and hand, according to his attorney.
The store’s security cameras caught the terrifying incident on tape, and it’s pretty dramatic.
The unscheduled fireworks show kicked off as 31-year-old Gooding chatted to a couple of his co-workers. A customer is also close by when the explosion occurs.
Without warning, sparks and smoke suddenly start pouring from his pants. As those around him scarper for cover, Gooding is seen frantically trying to get the device out of his pocket.
According to his attorney, the store worker suffered third-degree burns and may require surgery.
“Otis ran water on himself till the paramedics came,” one of his co-workers told CNN, adding, “I was traumatized to see someone hurt that way.”
The same co-worker said Gooding’s e-cigarette had been customized to make it possible to “change the voltage for high performances,” but the shocking outcome suggests the tweaking went a little awry.
This certainly isn’t the first time an e-cigarette has exploded, with some cases leading to lawsuits targeting the device maker.
In a particularly alarming incident last year, Vicente Garza claimed his e-cigarette exploded while it was close to his face. The California resident had his left index finger amputated as a result of the explosion, and also suffered injuries to his mouth and tongue.
“E-cigarette explosions are becoming all too common as this industry is taking off,” Garza’s attorney said at the time. “Consumers have the right to expect that products have been properly designed, manufactured, and tested for safety before they’re put into the marketplace.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 12 of the 15 e-cigarette incidents reported to media in 2015 resulted in injuries that required medical treatment.