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Australian cyclist suffers third-degree burn after smartphone explodes

For Gareth Clear of Sydney, Australia, the closeness of the relationship between rider and technology meant something very, very painful.

Gareth Clear’s iPhone after his fall. Image: @gareth_clear

Whether used for measuring time and distance with an app or recording an entire ride with the use of Strava, smartphones—like the iPhone—have become indispensable for many riders.

For Gareth Clear of Sydney, Australia, though, the closeness of that relationship between rider and technology, however, meant something much, much more painful.

After what Clear described as a “minor fall,” Gizmodo says, the 36-year-old cyclist allegedly suffered third-degree burns resulting from his iPhone 6 “exploding” in his back pocket. His bike shorts melted away. His skin burned. As a result of his injuries, the Australian rider eventually needed surgery, reports said, a process so severe that it involved a skin graft.

Speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald, Clear left no detail unmentioned in his account,

“I just saw smoke coming out of my back pocket,” Clear recalled, “and then all of a sudden I felt this surging pain. I just remember looking at my leg and I had all this black discharge all down my leg and this smell of phosphorus.” After feeling a “searing heat,” he said, the phone’s combustion burned through his shorts in a matter of seconds.

Clear, it seems, has become an unlucky statistic. Accord to the Herald, phone explosions like that which sent the cyclist to the hospital happen only once or twice a year, although the examples have been spectacular. On an Alaska Airlines flight, the batteries of another iPhone ignited, resulting in 8″ flames that prompted a panic on board. The lithium-ion batteries, reportedly, are the problem. When exposed to stresses or abuse—although this has typically been an issue reserved for older models of the iPhone—the energy stored inside is released as heat, not electricity. This reaction caused by the force of Clear’s impact during his fall claimed his shorts, and sent the Australian rider to the hospital.

That said, there’s no indication of whether or not Apple will be footing Clear’s hospital bill.

Warning: The following image is graphic.

Gareth Clear
Gareth Clear in hospital. Image: @gareth_clear