TEMPE, Ariz. - "Will I ever walk again?" A now 21-year-old Melissa Madsen recalled that's the first question she asked a bystander who rushed to her aid as she lay on the ground with the top half of her pants burned off.
"I felt so exposed, so naked on the side of the road," Madsen said.
The woman was driving near Southern Avenue and McClintock Drive and had her e-cigarette resting in her lap.
"Suddenly, what seemed like fireworks was going on in my lap. I was just so shocked," Madsen said. "I had no idea what was going on."
The device had exploded, and the flames began melting the woman's skin. She said she made the decision to jump out of her truck, as it was moving, in an effort to get away from the flames and in the process was dragged a few feet and eventually run over.
"I remember laying on the ground and wondering where my truck is and I see it's coming right in my direction," she said. "I closed my eyes and said 'This is it, this is where I'm going to die.'"
The woman sustained third-degree burns in her lap as well as a broken pelvis. She had to learn to walk again.
After nearly a year of physical therapy and eight surgeries, Madsen said she has regained her mobility and shares a warning to those using or considering using an e-cigarette.
"It's really not worth the risk. It has the potential to really end up killing you, like it did to me," she said.