Former Dickinson High School athlete hospitalized due to vaping illness

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A young man from Dickinson is recovering in the hospital after vaping nearly killed him.

Hunter Sims is currently in college at Texas A&M University. On Saturday, his girlfriend drove him to St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan, Texas because he felt he was suffocating. He’s been hospitalized since.

Monday was his 20th birthday, and he says the only thing he wishes for people to put e-cigarettes down.

“Even if they think it’s cool [and] their friends are doing it, it’s just not worth it because it could put you on the death bed,” he told FOX 26 in a phone interview.

Hunter was a baseball star at Dickinson High School. He’s athletic, otherwise healthy who never imagined he would be fighting to take a single breath.

He shared this post on Snapchat warning “Vaping is dangerous” and saying CDC researchers were there with him and a woman in the next room, and that he may need to be put into a medically induced coma.

Hunter’s mother, Dawn, says Hunter was diagnosed with bacterial and chemical pneumonia. She adds she knew her son vaped, but had no idea it could be deadly.

“We just didn’t realize how toxic it was. We just thought it was legal,” she explained. “We didn’t realize that this could be a deadly device. You just don’t know. Pulmonologists warned us they have no idea what’s in the vapes.”

On the phone, Hunter sounded winded. He’s improving, but not in the clear yet.

“Still really short of breath,” he said. “Hard to eat without having to take breaks or I can’t really stand without getting dizzy or walk to the bathroom.”

Dawn says her son now calls all the selections of vape flavors a fantasy world.

“It just pulls them in and it gravitates them. And they walk into these shops and think, ‘Oh, I want to try that flavor,’” she told FOX 26.

She’s urging other parents to have the hard conversations with the children about vaping before it's too late. 

“It could potentially save them from what we’ve gone through because this has been a horrible, horrible ride,” Dawn concluded.

The hope is that Hunter will be released from the hospital on Friday.