PHOENIX (KSAZ) – A Valley woman who had an e-cigarette explode on her lap is talking about the incident, for the first time since it happened in 2017.
“People buy vapes in order to quit smoking cigarettes, under the impression that it’s a safer way to quit smoking cigarettes,” said Melissa Madsen. “That’s exactly why I bought a vaporizer, and yet there I was, in the hospital bed.”
The explosion led to a crash in Tempe, and Madsen, then 20, was badly injured. After the explosion, Madsen jumped out of a pickup truck. That pickup ran Madsen over before it crashed into a tree.
“I’m so scared. I’m so shocked because I had a vaporizer in between my thighs as I was driving, and I tried to lift myself up and I tried to brake, and I don’t know what to do,” said Madsen. “The pain got so surreal, where it;s like I had to get out this truck right now.”
Madsen suffered a number of injuries. 6% of her body was covered in third degree burns, in addition to two broken hips, and road rash on her back and arms.
“They were just so comforting,” said Madsen. “They helped me with my feet. They helped me with everything.”
Madsen’s Physical Therapist helped her to learn how to walk again. Madsen is on her road to recovery, after eight surgeries, but if she wants to have a child someday, she will need to have three screws removed from her pelvis.
This type of injury isn’t new. Kevin Foster, Director of the Arizona Burn Center, said in the last 18 to 24 months, the amount of people burned by e-cigs has increased.
Foster also said as it stands, there’s no regulation on how e-cigs are manufactured.
“People are still continuing to get injured,” said Foster. “This is not a unique situation in Arizona. It seems to be particularly bad here, but it’s happening all over the country.”