Erik Johnson of Lindenhurst says his iPhone 5C spontaneously erupted in extreme heat while it was in his pants pocket, giving him second- and third-degree burnson his leg the size of a football.
He was headed to a wake for his cousin in New Jersey on February 14, Johnson said, and he dropped his car keys.
“When I went to bend over, I heard a pop,” he told CNN. “I heard a sizzling, and I ended up ripping my pants off to stop it from burning me.”
Johnson said he didn’t know what was causing the pain at first and there was no warning — just an extreme burn and a lot of pain. In a panic, he quickly started ripping at his pants as the phone began to melt the edges of his pocket shut, he said.
“I was trying to get it out of my pocket,” he said. “It started burning right through my pants. It was burning my leg, and I had to get my pants off somehow.”
Johnson’s brother, who was with him at the time, decided driving him to the hospital would be faster than dialing 911, Johnson said.
They drove to the Bayonne Medical Center in New Jersey. After being evaluated in the emergency room, Johnson was taken by ambulance to the Burn Center at Staten Island University Hospital. The burn center confirmed to CNN that he spent 10 days there receiving treatment.
“I still can’t believe it,” Johnson said. “I’ve never dealt with anything like this before.”
He works as an operating engineer in New York City, maintaining escalators, cranes and forklifts.
He said now he is at home with family in Lindenhurst, and a nurse comes in every day to change his bandage.
In the meantime, he said, he hasn’t even thought about buying a new phone.
Mike Della, a personal injury lawyer on Long Island who is representing Johnson, says despite two phone calls and a letter, Apple had not yet responded to his queries about why his client’s phone suddenly exploded in heat.
CNN reached out to Apple, and the company stated that it is looking into the incident.
Johnson purchased the phone last year and had not been using a battery case or third-party charger, Della said.
“First and foremost, we have to find out how this happened and prevent it from happening ever again,” Della told CNN. “That’s the whole goal here. Is the product safe?”
Della said because of this case, he now is quick to take extra precautions with his phone.
“Now, every single time I have my iPhone, instead of putting it in my pocket, I put it in the seat next to me because of this case,” he said. “My wife does the same thing, and so does everyone else at the (law) firm. It’s a little scary.”
“You shouldn’t have to worry about your phone exploding,” he said.
By Camille Cava and Brennan Dubose