GRAPHIC: Hawaii man seriously hurt after e-cig explodes in mouth

GRAPHIC: Pearl City man loses teeth, needs stitches after e-cig explodes in mouth
Published: Dec. 5, 2017 at 2:43 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 5, 2017 at 12:28 PM HST
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(Image: Matt Yamashita)
(Image: Matt Yamashita)

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Pearl City man suffered severe injuries to his face when an e-cigarette exploded in his mouth.

Matt Yamashita, 25, said it happened Sunday night at Palisades Park.

"I just got out my car and I was ready to play basketball, but I just wanted to take a few puffs of vape before I played," he said. "As soon as I took that first rip, it just blew up in my face."

The explosion took out four of his teeth. About 40 stitches are now holding his mouth together.

Photos of the aftermath showed torch marks and blood on the pavement. There were pieces of the burnt e-cig stuck in the fence.

"My right hand was burning, it was black," said Yamashita. "I just heard loud ringing in both my ears and I just saw a flash then I was spitting out blood and I was just in shock."

Yamashita said he kicked his traditional cigarette habit and switched to vaping five years ago.

He said he doesn't always buy e-cigs from the same vendors. The one that exploded was a CoilART Mage.

"It was a mechanical mod which seems to be the most common device in any e-cig explosion that happens while someone is using it," said e-cig expert Jason Artman. "Basically it's just a battery tube with a button and it has no safety features at all. Regulated mods that have built in safety features are the better choice even though they cost a little more."

Artman is the founder and author of He's compiled a list of more than 240 e-cig explosions.

"Your best bet if you are going to use a mechanical mod is to use it with the tank or atomizer that came with it and be very certain you're buying your batteries from a trusted source to prevent counterfeit," Artman said.

This isn't the first such explosion in Hawaii.

In 2014, an e-cig torched a woman's counter in Moanalua.

Yamashita may be the first to have it blast his face.

"I'm just feeling thankful and blessed to be alive and to be able to see and taste," Yamashita said.

It's unclear what caused the explosion, but Yamashita said he's considering a lawsuit.

As far as his mouth, he'll need to have surgery to install dental implants.

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