Gareth Clear 36, was riding his mountain bike in Sydney, Australia, when he fell from his bike and landed on his iPhone 6 in his back pocket. The minor fall resulted in an explosion which left him with third-degree burns. His injuries needed urgent medical attention, including skin graft surgery at a specialist burns unit.
Moments after the fall, Gareth noticed smoke pouring from his rear and felt a searing pain on the right side of his buttocks as the phone exploded with extremely high temperatures.
Then the phone burnt through Gareth’s pocket – melting his shorts, and then through two layers of skin on his upper right thigh.
The 36-year-old management consultant who is originally from Winchester in Hampshire but moved to Australia six years ago also burnt his hands trying to at first remove the melting phone before trying to get his shorts off.
Gareth’s injuries needed urgent medical attention, including skin graft surgery at a specialist burns unit.
“I lost my footing and embarrassingly I fell. I leaned on my butt and put my arm out to cushion the fall when I hit the ground. After three or four seconds I got back up and saw smoke coming out of my behind and thought that was weird. But what happened next I can’t even describe… it was nothing I could describe.”
‘The phone was stuck to my leg having melted through both my shorts and my Skins, It had to have been more than 100 degrees. My instinct was to grab the phone but I burnt my hands. There wasn’t an explosion but a loud snap. I was trying to rip the shorts off as it melted through them on to my leg.
“The lithium inside the battery was like black lava spewing out of the side and the metal started to bend. My leg was completely black – the ‘snap explosion’ had discharged everything.”
Luckily Gareth had a water bottle with him and squeezed its contents onto the burns. He managed to get the hot phone between two bits of wood and push the bike back 2km. but admits he was scared.
“I was sh****** myself. I was isolated but bleeding. The worse thing was the smell – like a chemistry experiment at school. I was worried about that – the residue/poison getting into my bloodstream.”
Gareth has been treated at two hospitals is now recovering at the home of a friend.
“I want to make people aware of it as if it happened to someone’s face or skin they would we scarred for life. Luckily I was near a specialist burns unit. It was a combination of unique circumstances. I must have fell on a specific part of the phone and then a design fault caused it to explode and react with degrees of extreme heat – it must have been 200 degrees Celsius.
Gareth will now be house bound for the rest of the week, hooked up to a machine to prevent infection and is expected to take weeks to recover.
He says he’s had a mobile phone for 18 years and nothing like this has ever happened before. He added that the weather was only about 20 degrees when he was cycling.
He says he was told by Apple they would investigate the incident.