Memphis native in hospital after an e-cigarette exploded

by: Kristin Leigh Updated:

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The injuries a college student sustained when an electronic cigarette exploded in his face could have been prevented if the man had been taught to use the e-cigarette properly, a smoke shop employee told FOX13. Meanwhile, the man's family is sharing their story to try to keep the same accident from happening to another person.

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Cordero Caples, a Memphis Native, was in surgery at a hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo. for most of the day Sunday. Caples had a fractured vertebrae, facial fractures, and busted teeth, among other injuries, after an electronic cigarette exploded Friday.

"It’s going to be a long, intensive recovery process," Colessia Porter, the victim's sister said. "I ask that the City of Memphis keep us in your prayers. We need them. He needs them."

Caples is a college student in Colorado, studying to be a person trainer. Porter said doctors aren't sure if her brother will be able to walk again.

 "He has a very outgoing personality. He’s that guy that can do whatever in the world he wants to do," Porter said. "He’s really, really into fitness, and he’s really good at it. That’s what he was in school to do, but with an injury like this, it puts those things in question. I’m just hopeful he can make a speedy recovery and a full recovery."

An employee at VaporWize, a smoke shop in Memphis, immediately noticed something hazardous when FOX13 showed her the picture of Caples' combusted e-cigarette.

"This is way too powerful to power this," Mary Grace Burns said as she described the pieces Caples used for his vaporizer. "Way too hot of a battery. You can have a way-too-high amped battery in there or something like that could easily misfire and cause something like that. It's operator error though."

E-cigarettes are sold in parts. The two main parts are the battery tank and the coil on top that heats to create the vapor. Burns said the combination that made up Caples' cigarette was incompatible.

Burns said e-cigarette users should buy their products from trusted stores, and be weary of online dealers.

"They think it's just an easy little hobby, but they aren't watching the videos on YouTube of how to do it, or coming in here, to get us to teach them how to do it," Burns said.

FOX13 asked the smoke shop employee if e-cigarettes are safe.

"Completely, 100 percent," Burns said, "As long as you get direct instruction, and you know what you're doing, and you feel comfortable enough to do it, I think it's completely safe. 

Caples does not have insurance, and the family is struggling to pay his hospital bills. If you would like to help, you can donate to Caples' GoFundMe account. Click here to help: https://www.gofundme.com/knbwfd9w.

"I come from the great state of Tennessee," Porter said. "We have great people in the City of Memphis, and we believe in helping one another. So I ask my city to help us in this transition."

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