POLICE: E-cigarette blows up, causing semi-driver to run off I-6 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

POLICE: E-cigarette blows up, causing semi-driver to run off I-65 in Indiana

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy: Sgt. Stephen Wheeles Twitter account (@ISPVersailles) Courtesy: Sgt. Stephen Wheeles Twitter account (@ISPVersailles)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Indiana State Police say they believe they have determined what caused a semi-driver to veer off the road on I-65 earlier today.

They say that a preliminary investigation revealed that an electronic cigarette blew up in the face of the driver, causing the driver to veer off the road.

It happened on I-65, in the northbound lanes, at the 35.5 mile marker, near Austin, Indiana.

In a picture tweeted out by Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, public information officer for Indiana State Police, the semi-truck could be seen on the side of the interstate, in the grass.

"Through further investigation, it was believed the injuries he did sustain were not actually from the crash," Wheeles said.

Wheeles said that when officers arrived, the driver told them that the e-cigarette had blown up in his face. He said officers found what appeared to be evidence of the exploded e-cigarette in the truck. The driver suffered burns to his face, and had lost a lot of blood due to cuts, according to Wheeles.

"There was some charring and some pieces of the device that were scattered inside the cab which verified his story," Wheeles said

Wheeles said the driver was taken to University of Louisville Hospital.

Wild Vape, a store specializing in e-cigarettes, helped to explain how an explosion might happen.

“Nine times out of ten it is always the battery,” said employee Grant Granovskiy. “The battery is giving the power and that’s the one that’s going to be volatile enough to cause that explosion.”

Usually, he said, the battery malfunctions are the result of user error.

“If it starts to get hot even a little bit more than you're used to stop using it right away,” Granovskiy said. “Batteries can overheat like the new hover boards, laptops, cell phones.”

The Kentucky Smoke Free Association released the following statement on their Facebook page:

“First and foremost, our thoughts go out to the driver and his family. While this accident is unfortunate, there are a lot of facts not known at this time. We do not know, at the present time, the type of vaping device was involved (open system vs. closed system). We do not know the age of the vaping device, or from where it was purchased. We do not know whether the driver was properly using the vaping device around the time it exploded. We do not know whether the driver had properly maintained the vaping device. 3% of the US population uses electronics cigarettes (9,000,000+). This type of incident is very rare, and typically does not occur when a vaping device is properly used and maintained. I am hopeful that people will wait for these questions to be answered before indicting the industry.”

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