Doctors say a 16-year-old in South Carolina died of a caffeine overdose after he drank a latte, a large Mountain Dew, and an energy drink in about two hours. The caffeine rush caused Davis Allen Cripe to collapse in the middle of class last month, and he was pronounced dead an hour later. According to the coroner’s report released yesterday, the cause was a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia,” meaning an erratic heart rhythm prevented enough blood from reaching the brain and other organs.
Cripe reportedly bought the latte from a McDonald’s around 12:30 p.m. He drank that, followed in pretty short succession by a Diet Mountain Dew and the energy drink (which authorities are refusing to name). He collapsed in class around 2:30. The autopsy also showed that Cripe was a healthy kid — no other drugs were in his system, and he didn’t have any signs of heart problems or, to anyone’s knowledge, a condition that would’ve made consuming caffeine a health risk. Cripe’s dad joined the coroner at the Richland County coroner’s office news conference yesterday, telling reporters: “It wasn’t a car crash that took his life. Instead, it was an energy drink.” The coroner also added, “We lost Davis from a totally legal substance.”
Science shows that coffee in particular may have some crazy health benefits, and death from a caffeine overdose is “very rare,” the president of the South Carolina Coroner’s Association told USA Today (so rare, he’s never seen it happen in his state before). Still, caffeine is a drug, it affects everybody differently, and the cool new coffee trend is to pack a near-lethal caffeine dose in it. The coroner said ensuring caffeine intake isn’t another place kids can make poor decisions is what he wants parents to take from the tragedy: “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.”