Davis Cripe, a South Carolina high school student, died from ingesting caffeine too fast, CNN is reporting.
The strange cause of death for the 16-year-old was released by the Medical Examiner’s office in Richland County.
The medical examiner said on May 16 that Cripe died in April after chugging the caffeine fueled drinks too fast, reports ABC.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cripe Died From Caffeine Fueled Cardiac Arrhythmia
Cripe, a student at Spring Hill High School, died “from a caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia,” CNN reported.
“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,” according to CNN.
The coroner, Gary Watts, said in a news conference, “These drinks can be very dangerous. I’m telling my friends and family don’t drink them.” He added of Cripe: “It was so much caffeine at the time of his death that it caused his arrhythmia.”
2. Cripe Drank Three Caffeine-Laced Drinks
According to The Associated Press, Cripe drank “a large caffeinated soda, latte and energy drink before he collapsed at school and was rushed to the hospital.”
According to BBC, a witness “could not say which brand of energy drink Davis drank but said it was from a container the size of a large soft drink.”
The State reports that Davis “had purchased the latte at a McDonald’s around 12:30 p.m. April 26…he consumed the Diet Mountain Dew ‘a little time after that’ and the energy drink sometime after the soda,” according to the coroner.
Cripe collapsed in class at about 2:28 p.m. and died at 3:40 p.m. at a local hospital, according to The State.
3. Cripe Had No History of Heart Problems & His Father Has Spoken Out About the Dangers of an ‘Energy Drink’
BBC reports that Cripe was a healthy teenager who did not have a pre-existing heart condition.
“It wasn’t a car crash that took his life,” Cripe’s father, Sean, said at the news conference. “Instead, it was an energy drink. Parents, please talk to your kids about these energy drinks. And teenagers and students: please stop buying them.”
The medical examiner said in a press conference that the issue arose because of how fast Cripe chugged the drinks.
“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 BBC quoted the ME as saying.
4. Medical Experts Say Drinking Many Cups of Caffeinated Drinks Can Be Unsafe
How much caffeine is dangerous?
ABC News reports that, according to the Mayo Clinic, about “400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day is safe for most healthy adults,” which is roughly “the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two ‘energy shot’ drinks.”
However, it’s not clear how much caffeine is too much in children and youths, reports ABC.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that energy drinks may not be safe for children.
“There has been an explosion of energy drinks, with rebellious sounding names, targeted to young people. Their advertising claims they can increase attention, performance and reaction time, but are they helpful – or even safe – for children?” the site reports. “These drinks get their ‘energy’ from large doses of caffeine and sugar. Most have a caffeine equivalent of three cups of coffee and as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar. They also contain other ingredients. Guarana is another form of caffeine, while taurine supposedly enhances performance. But neither of these herbs has been tested in children and no one can ensure they are safe.”
The AAP reports that caffeine ingestion can “have side effects, including irregular heartbeats and blood pressure changes, neither of which is good for teen athletes.”
5. Davis Spoke Out Against Drugs & Alcohol & Caffeine Deaths Are Very Rare
One of the tragic ironies in the death is that Davis was known among his friends for speaking against drugs and alcohol, yet he died from a legal substance, unaware of the danger it posed, reports The State.
However, caffeine deaths are rare, and caffeine can affect people differently.
The newspaper reported that it was the first caffeine death in South Carolina, but added that federal guidelines ban energy drink sales at schools in the state.