A blaze blamed on a malfunctioning hoverboard in Pennsylvania earlier this month has tragically taken two young lives and prompted a federal investigation into the dire safety risks that these popular toys pose. Two-year-old Ashanti Hughes died from burns she suffered on the night of the fire, March 10, and 10-year-old Savannah Dominick died days later.
"My granddaughter, I can't replace her," Mark Hughes told Harrisburg's FOX43. "The pain is so deep. I'm so hurt. My soul is hurt."
Hughes told reporters that family members heard "sizzling and cracking" noises coming from the hoverboard, which was plugged into an electrical outlet when it exploded. Though the toys reportedly have caused a rash of fires over the past few years both here in the United States and internationally, the girls' deaths mark the first confirmed deaths in the US attributed to hoverboards.
The incident has prompted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch an investigation focused on whether the hoverboard involved was one of the brands covered in the massive recall issued last year. That recall covered some 501,000 hoverboards containing batteries and internal mechanisms that had not been inspected by UL, an independent product safety testing laboratory.
Since the recall, the Illinois-based company enacted a safety check protocol specifically targeting hoverboards. By the time that protocol was launched, however, thousands of potentially defective units had already been sold. And at the time of the recall, the CPSC had received some 100 reports of battery packs in hoverboards catching fire or exploding. Officials have investigated more than 60 hoverboard fires in 20 states, which together resulted in more than $2 million in property damage.
"Let me be clear about this — all of the hoverboard models included in this recall were made with fundamental design flaws that put people at real risk. They were made and sold without a safety standard in place," CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said.
If there's a hoverboard in your home, be sure to check the CPSC website to confirm whether it's included in the recall. If so, and if you've suffered no injuries or damage caused by the hoverboard, return it for a full refund. However, if your hoverboard has caused a spark that led to an injury or property damage, keep it intact, get medical treatment and/or a property damage survey, and call Gainesville's Schackow & Mercadante at 877-798-7700 to speak with a product liability or personal injury attorney today.