Victim's brother in Grand Central e-cigarette explosion: 'I thank God...he's alive'

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N.J. Burkett reports from the Upper East Side.

The brother of a man burned when an e-cigarette exploded inside a wine store in Grand Central Terminal Wednesday says the injuries are more serious than first believed and that the victim may not regain full use of his hand.

Otis Gooding, 31, was working inside Central Cellars when the e-cigarette caught fire in his pocket around 9:50 a.m. He suffered severe burns to his hand and leg in the incident, which was caught on surveillance camera.

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Surveillance video shows an e-cigarette explode inside a man's pocket in a store in Grand Central Terminal. Video courtesy of Central Cellars.


"I thank God at the end of the day that he's alive, because this could have ended up a lot worse," his brother, 16-year-old Joshua Barker, said. "He's scared up there, and I'm wondering what I can do to help him."

The cigarette started sparking in his pocket, and a colleague said it was sizzling and then burst into flames.

"Out of nowhere, a huge explosion came from one of my co-worker's pockets," Byron Gonzalez said. "It just shot at us."
Another co-worker said it looked like fireworks.

"His pocket just engulfed in flames," John Lee said. "There were sparks. I thought it was fireworks like Fourth of July. I thought he had a pocket full of fireworks, and then I realized he had an e-cigarette."

In the video, Gooding is seen frantically patting his leg.

"These things are just not supposed to explode like that," Barker said. "He's my brother and I look up to him, and now, he is in the hospital and I'm worried about him."

Gooding was taken by private ambulance to a local hospital, where he's in stable condition. His attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, said he was admitted to the burn unit for treatment and will require surgery.

This photo taken by Lee shows the aftermath of the explosion:


Lee said the e-cigarette had a high-voltage battery, but there was no indication why it caught fire.
Related Topics:
newsfirecigarettessmokegrand central terminalNew York CityMidtown
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