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Valley woman recalls electronic cigarette exploding in lap burning her legs

Posted at 9:25 PM, Feb 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-09 00:30:11-05

A woman is speaking out for the first time after an electronic cigarette exploded in her lap and she was run over by her own car. 

Last April, Melissa Madsen, 21, recalled leaving her shift at Sweet Tomatoes near McClintock Drive and Southern Avenue when her e-cigarette caught fire.

“…Suddenly, what felt like fireworks and looked like fireworks, started to explode in my lap and I was so terrified,” Madsen explained. “I started to feel the flesh on my body burning and my first instinct was to stop, drop and roll. I was so scared.”

Madsen jumped out of her truck to put out the fire.

“As I was laying there I was wondering, ‘Where is my truck?’ Madsen said. “It’s coming right my direction and it comes over and runs me over and I was so shocked that I was still conscious…I watched as it runs into a tree."

Madsen explained she thought she was going to die that night.

"This is it. I'm going to die right here," she said.

RELATED: Driver's e-cigarette explodes in lap, truck crashes into tree

Tempe police explained in April that Madsen’s car jumped a curb and eventually came to a stop after hitting a tree.

Multiple people rushed to Madsen’s side to help. One woman, in particular, she remembers vividly. 

“She was a nurse and the first thing I said was, ‘Am I going to walk again?’ and she said, ‘If you can move your toes, you can walk again,’” Madsen said. 

She’s now hoping to bring to light the dangers of e-cigarettes so others do not have to figure it out first-hand.

“I was so confused; so conflicted,” Madsen recalled. “I had no idea that a vaporizer could be so dangerous. It [the e-cigarette] wasn’t even being fired — I wasn’t even using it. All of a sudden I was just on fire.”

She says risks of using an e-cigarette far outweigh the benefits.

“I’ve recovered very well, but my scars are something I have to stare at every day,” she said. “That’s the one thing that is hard to live with.