ESCANABA - Escanaba's former mayor and her husband are urging people not to use Sunbeam batteries after they were injured when one recently exploded in their faces.
Judi and Dave Schwalbach spent more than four hours in the emergency room at OSF St. Francis Hospital June 16 after a C-size Sunbeam battery exploded at their Escanaba home. Particles from the battery became embedded in their eyes when the explosion occurred about 8 that night, said Judi.
"We heard a loud pop," said Judi. The couple and their daughter, Heidi Banks, thought the sound might have come from wireless speakers, which they set up earlier that day.
Dave Schwalbach shows injuries he received when a battery exploded.
Dave opened the battery compartment to find black soot inside, Judi said. As she was handing Dave a paper towel, he removed the battery and the battery blew up in his face.
"It was like a fire cracker ... a big one," she said. "A cylinder had flown out... There was black soot on the ceiling, the walls, the floors, in our eyes and up our noses. Dave got it the worst."
Heidi drove Dave to the emergency room. After attempting to take care of herself by trying to wash out the particles in her eyes, Judi was driven to the hospital by their son, D.J. Schwalbach.
"They numbed our eyeballs and dug the pieces out. It took three hours," she said. Both Judi and Dave are doing fine now, she added.
The Schwalbach's filed a police report the next morning to document the explosion and warn others of the potential danger of Sunbeam batteries. According to the police report, the batteries were purchased from the local Dollar Tree store. Police contacted the store and managers voluntarily pulled the batteries off their shelves.
"I would have never thought that would have happened in a million years," Judi said. Through their attorney, the Schwalbach's have requested Sunbeam pay for their medical bills and home repair expenses, she said.
"Our intention is to let the public know there's the potential for this to happen," Judi said.
"If you have these batteries, get rid of them now," Judi stated in an e-mail to family and friends.
Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org