An employee of a wine shop in Grand Central Station suffered from severe burn injuries when an e-cigarette exploded in his pocket at work Nov. 23.
Otis Gooding, 31, of Jamaica, Queens, is seen on a high-definition surveillance video talking with two other employees of the Central Cellar wine shop inside Grand Central Terminal in New York City when flames and sparks begin to blast from his pants. The incident sent the employees and a customer who had been signing a receipt at the time running for safety.
The same video shows firefighters and rescue workers removing Mr. Gooding from the store on a gurney.
Mr. Gooding remains in the hospital where he is being treated for second- and third-degree burns to his right leg and right hand. On Tuesday, he underwent a three-hour skin graft surgery that transplanted skin from his upper right thigh to his lower right thigh, which was badly burned by the exploding e-cigarette.
A similar procedure was to be performed on his hand but that surgery was postponed due to unspecified complications. Mr. Gooding’s lawyer said that surgeons are reassessing the damage to his client’s hand.
Severe burn injuries like Mr. Gooding’s can result in intense pain and a great risk of infection and therefore usually require lengthy stays at specialized burn centers.
“What’s really important here is the public has to be aware of the dangers of e-cigarettes,” Mr. Gooding’s lawyer told the New York Daily News, adding that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported 92 incidents of exploding e-cigarettes since 2009, 47 of which resulted in serious injuries.
However, no central data base exists linking burn injuries treated in hospitals to e-cigarettes and similar devices, so the actual rate is almost certainly several times higher than the FDA’s count.
Between October 2015 and June 2016, the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle alone treated 15 patients for burns and other injuries caused by exploding e-cigarettes. By comparison, the same hospital treated 25 injuries in a five-year period from 2009 to 2014. Many other hospitals across the country have reported dramatic rises in burn injuries linked to e-cigarettes in recent years.