WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW
Will Hawksworth, 24, a professional PGA golfer, said he was driving when the new batteries in his vape pen — also known as an electronic cigarette — exploded, setting fire to his clothes, SWNS reported.
Hawksworth, who began smoking cigarettes at 15 and switched to vaping at 19, told SWNS he and his girlfriend, Molly Biney, 25, were driving home from the grocery store when sparks began to emerge from his jacket pocket.
“I heard a noise that sounded like fireworks and then my gilet just burst into flames. The battery blew up as I pulled over. By the time I stopped I was pretty much engulfed in flames,” he said.
“It burnt through my clothes and fell down the side of the car seat. I got out and took my clothes off and covered myself in snow. It was agony,” he added of the January 21 incident.
“The car just went up in flames. It was completely burnt out.”
While waiting for emergency officials, the couple watched as the car — an Audi A5 — burned. Hawksworth was later taken to Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, England, to treat a series of bad burns on his torso. The 24-year-old told SWNS he suffered from second and third-degree burns to his chest and stomach.
Hawksworth, who claims he told doctors he didn't want a skin graft, added the skin on his torso now becomes irritated and bright red when exposed to heat. But he's thankful that’s his biggest concern.
“My appearance does bother me, especially when I’m on holiday. My skin gets very aggravated when it’s hot. I can’t really expose it to the sun,” he said. “It is horrible to live with now. It could have ended so much worse. I feel lucky to be alive.”
Hawksworth told SWNS he’s attempting to receive compensation from Efest — the e-cig company he claims made the batteries that exploded — following the incident.
“It felt like I was being burnt alive. It was the most painful thing you could ever imagine. My clothes burnt onto my chest and my skin was completely burnt,” he said.
“I was terrified. I thought this was it and I could have lost my life. I’ll never go near a vape pen ever again. They are lethal.”
Separately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced it is investigating 127 reports of seizures following electronic cigarette use.