RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. – Too much caffeine caused the death of a 16-year-old high school student from South Carolina who collapsed during class last month, according to the county coroner.
Davis Allen Cripe died from a caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts announced in a news conference Monday. During an arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body, and lack of blood flow affects the brain, heart and other organs.
The teen consumed three caffeine-laced drinks -- a cafe latte, large Diet Mountain Dew and an energy drink -- in a two-hour period before collapsing in his classroom at Spring Hill High School on April 26, Watts said.
Among those at the news conference Monday was the teen's father, Sean Cripe.
"Like all parents, we worry about our kids as they grow up. We worry about their safety, their health, especially once they start driving. But it wasn't a car crash that took his life. Instead, it was an energy drink," Sean Cripe said of his son's death.
Watts said Davis had purchased the latte at McDonald's around 12:30 p.m. After that he consumed the Diet Mountain Dew and the energy drink.
Davis collapsed at the school in Chapin, near Columbia, just before 2:30 p.m. and according to Watts, was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m.
Davis' autopsy showed no undiagnosed heart conditions and that Davis was healthy and had no conditions that could have triggered by the caffeine intake. Also, no other drugs or alcohol were found in the teen's system, according to Watts.
"This was not an overdose. We lost Davis from a totally legal substance, " Watts said. "Our purpose here today is to let people know, especially our young kids in school, that these drinks can be dangerous, and be very careful with how you use them, and how many you drink on a daily basis."
Sean Cripe said he hopes that if nothing else comes out of this, parents and kids will realize the dangers of caffeinated beverages.
"Parents, please talk to your kids about the dangers of these energy drinks," he said.