COBB COUNTY, Ga. - James is now forced to talk with a lisp, but he's willing to share his painful story in the hopes that it will prevent others from getting hurt. The 23-year-old explained he was on his break at work and simply did what he had done hundreds of times before.
"It's just a normal day," explained James. "I'm at work and things quieted down and I stepped away for a second like I always do. Next thing I know, it exploded and I was on my way to a hospital in an ambulance, and that is the last thing I remember."
James' injuries were so severe he was airlifted to the University of Alabama's burn unit, where he spent a week in the ICU. His parents told FOX 5 they couldn't believe the severity of the James' injuries.
"He had burns to his hand and a fractured neck and finger, and burns to his cornea," said Ed Lauria. "It blew a hole through his pallet and at the same time, flames went down and he got first-degree burns on his chest and up on his face. It forced his front tooth up into his gum- out of sight -and chipped the other one and damaged a few other lower teeth."
His mother was severely traumatized as well.
"It hurt to see him with a tube and all," claimed Beth. "He was restrained but they sedated him. Just to see him go through it was tough."
And so with a long road of recovery still ahead, the Lauria family wants to warn others.
"Us getting the word out prevents e-cigarettes from injuring another person. I would say we have done a good thing at this point," said Ed.
It's been six weeks since the accident and James is still on a liquid die, unable to eat solid foods. His mother, Beth said he will be fitted for a prosthetic for the roof of his mouth in hopes that the hole will close. But James has a long road of recovery ahead.
Currently the exploded vape is in the custody of the South Walton Fire and Rescue Department. They are the agency who responded to the incident. They are handling the investigation."