By Kelly Werthmann
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A teenager from the Denver metro area is recovering after a vape pen he was using exploded in his face.
It happened on Jan. 3, but the 16-year-old is still receiving treatment for his badly burned skin and scarred eyes.
His mom spoke to CBS4 about the incident, but asked to have her identity as well as her son’s kept anonymous. She told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann that her son was home when it happened and the first thing she heard was a loud crash.
“At first I thought a car had crashed into my house,” she said. “Then I heard just nothing but blood curdling screams.”
Moments after she heard the screams, she saw her son.
“His face was completely black, his hands were black and he was profusely bleeding out of his chin,” she said. “He was screaming, ‘I can’t see! I can’t see! I can’t see!’”
His mom immediately called 911 and paramedics arrived to rush him to the burn unit at the University of Colorado Hospital. She said it was the scariest moment of her life.
“To watch your son go through that and think that he might be blind or we were told he may need a cornea transplant,” she said tearfully, “Then for them to scrape the burn out of his eyes and have him scream the whole time … it was awful.”
The teen’s eyes are slowly healing, but the long term effects are still not known. His mom said he’ll never have 20/20 vision and will likely suffer from dry eye for a long time. But she also knows her son is not the only teen to have used or be using the trendy device, especially with how easy they are to buy online.
“They think it’s cool, they think it’s fun. And now we have vapor shops popping up faster than pot shops,” she said. “There’s no regulation on it, there’s no instructions with it. They’re learning via YouTube.”
She hopes other moms and families learn from her terrifying experience.
“The next mom may not be so lucky,” she said. “We could be looking at a funeral next. I feel like I was lucky.
“What if my son was alone? What if my son was in a car full of kids when this happened? It could’ve had bigger consequences than what we’ve already dealt with.”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now reports for CBS4 News at 10 and is always open to story ideas. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.