THE SPONTANEOUS combustion of an iPhone in the back pocket of a 12-year-old Northeast Philadelphia girl has her family traumatized - and eager to switch to another brand of smartphone.
Alexis Rolon suffered second-degree burns on her right buttock from an iPhone 5C, which caught fire while she walked to her neighborhood school Friday morning. The freak accident left Alexis feeling embarrassed because it happened in front of her classmates, her parents said. She also has trouble sleeping since she has to sleep in a different position because of the injury, Alexis said.
The family has obtained a lawyer who will investigate why the phone went up in flames.
Her mother, Roselly Rolon, works for a cellphone company, is familiar with the Apple phone and thought she gave her daughter the very best.
"My own child. I am beating myself up to the limit. I thought it was the safest phone," Rolon said.
Her father, Peter Able, said, "If it was not in her pocket, then what would have happened?"
Alexis usually keeps the phone in her chest pocket, Able said. "I want justice for her," he added.
Attempts to reach Apple yesterday were unsuccessful.
Alexis was given the phone in November when her parents allowed her to walk the two blocks to Aloysius L. FitzPatrick School.
Alexis said she put the phone in her rear pocket before she left for school, on Knights Road near Chalfont Drive.
There was "a sizzling sound" at first.
Alexis was standing at the corner of Knights and Chalfont when she heard it. It reminded her, Alexis added, of "hairspray [coming] out of a bottle."
Then, almost simultaneously, she said she felt heat on her rear and looked back and saw smoke coming from her back pocket.
Alexis immediately pulled her phone out and threw it down on the ground. The phone landed in a neighbor's rock patch; it was on fire, she said.
"I was screaming. My friends looked at me and they thought I was crazy 'cause they didn't know what was happening," Alexis said.
Alexis took swift action: "I stomped on it."
She picked up the phone and rushed into the school nurse's office with her friends. Her rear felt hot, she said.
The phone burned through the denim fabric back pocket and onto her skin. Roselle Rolon said her daughter had sharp reflexes to take out the phone so quickly and prevented further injury to herself.
Her family members, including Alexis' siblings John Rolon, 17, and Maria Rolon, 15, are trying to dump their iPhones because of the fiery incident. Other extended family also will do the same.
For now, they are only using speakerphone when operating the device.
The family will be "more secure with another type of phone," Roselly Rolon said. "We just can't no more.
"I was Team iPhone. The same team that . . . hurt my baby," she said. "I feel so bad."