A Seattle man died suddenly last week after using an electronic cigarette he purchased in Oregon, according to a new story from the Herald and News in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Hadynn Outcalt-Arends, 23, died Wednesday after he was reportedly found gasping for breath.
The man’s grandmother, Robin Hurt, told the Herald and News that Outcalt-Arends was on his honeymoon with his newly-married wife when he suddenly fell ill.
“Later that night after they had enjoyed the day together, she went into the kitchen to prepare a late-night meal and she heard him gasping in the bedroom. She rushed to him and he was unconscious and foaming at the mouth,” Hurt told the paper.
The man died at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to the Herald and News.
The Washington Department of Health (DOH) says it is working with Public Health-King County to investigate the man’s death.
“We are working closely with Public Health—Seattle & King County to investigate a possible case of vaping associated lung injury in a Washington resident who has died,” said Kristen Maki, a spokesperson for DOH. “We are not able to provide additional detail at this time.”
This is apparently the first Washingtonian to die from a vape-related illness. The DOH has identified 12 cases of vape-associated lung illness in Washington, including six cases in King County. This most recent death appears to be related only to nicotine vape pens, but DOH has identified cases related to both nicotine e-cigarettes and pot vape pens. DOH has reported four cases with nicotine-only use, two cases with THC-only, four cases with THC and nicotine, and two of the cases are unknown product types.
Health authorities across the country are scrambling to identify why vape pens appear to be getting people sick, but there has yet to be an official cause. Vape additives like vitamin E, pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants are suspected to cause some of the illnesses.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order in August calling on the state’s Board of Health to ban all flavorings in vape products. The board followed through on Inslee’s wishes and banned all non-tobacco flavors, like menthol and banana, in October. That has devastated the local e-cigarette industry, even though Inslee has himself admitted that there is zero evidence flavoring agents are causing the mysterious illness.