At just 16-years old, Davis Allen Cripe died of cardiac arrythmia, or irregular heart rhythm. The South Carolina teenager collapsed in a high school classroom on April 26, at 2:30 pm. He was immediately rushed to the Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital but was pronounced dead at 3:40 pm, just a little over an hour later. Richland County coroner Gary Watts pointed one cause behind the cardiac event: the ingestion of too much caffeine in too short a span of time.
“This is not a caffeine overdose,” Watts told Reuters.com. “We’re not saying that it was the total amount of caffeine in the system; it was just the way that it was ingested over that short period of time, and the chugging of the energy drink at the end was what the issue was with the cardiac arrhythmia.”
The cause behind Davis Allen Cripe’s death was announced at a press conference, alongside Sean Cripe, the boy’s father. According to TheDailySheeple.com, Davis Allen Cripe consumed a McDonald’s cafe latte (purchased at around 12:30 pm), a large Diet Mountain Dew, and an unspecified type of energy drink in the span of two hours. Though the brand of energy drink was unidentifiable, the coroner stated that it was from “a container the size of a large soft drink” and that Davis Allen Cripe “basically chugged” it down. Watts also noted that conversations with the friends and classmates are what helped Watts and his team piece together the foods and drinks that the teenager consumed prior to his death.
Although Davis Allen Cripe weighed a little over 200 pounds (90 kg), he was not considered morbidly obese and was said to be in “good health.” Watts added that the family history showed no medical problems that could have been exacerbated by caffeine, nor did the autopsy on Davis Allen Cripe reveal any undiagnosed heart conditions. The teenager did, however, have “a previous history of drinking caffeinated beverages,” but not one that the family thought of as an addiction.
“A cup of coffee, a can of soda isn’t going to cause this thing. It’s the amount and also the time frame in which these caffeinated beverages are consumed that can put you at risk,” Dr. Amy Durso, Richland County deputy chief medical examiner, explained.
Up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is considered safe for the majority of healthy adults, according to The Mayo Clinic. As stated on CaffeineInformer.com, the amount of caffeine in each of Davis Allen Cripe’s drinks were as follows: 142 mg in a medium-sized McDonald’s latte, 90 mg in 20 ounces of Mountain Dew, and upwards of 240 mg in a 16-ounce energy drink.
All in all, the caffeine that Davis Allen Cripe consumed in those few hours were too much for his body. Watts elaborated by stating, “Based on his weight, the intake of caffeine that he had exceeded what is considered a safe level.”
Following the tragic turn of events, Sean Cripe has urged parents to speak with their children on the possible dangers of taking in too much caffeine. “It wasn’t a car crash that took his life. Instead, it was an energy drink. Parents, please talk to your kids about these energy drinks. And teenagers and students: please stop buying them,” Sean Cripe said. (Related: The hidden dangers of caffeine: How coffee causes exhaustion, fatigue and addiction.)
Watts added, “Davis, like so many other kids and so many other people out there today, were doing something that they thought was totally harmless, and that was ingesting lots of caffeine.”
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