Davis Allen Cripe was only 16-years-old when he collapsed and died last month after drinking several highly-caffeinated drinks within a two hour time-frame. The South Carolina teen drank a latte from McDonald’s, a large Mountain Dew, and an unidentified energy drink before collapsing in class at Spring Hill High School, according to Gary Watts, the coroner of Richland County, S.C.
In an interview with Reuters, Watts said that Cripe was healthy and there was no sign of a heart condition. Although the teen weighed just over 200 pounds, he wasn’t considered morbidly obese. Watts’s staff determined Cripe died from a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia.”
Keep in mind this isn’t the case of a simple “caffeine overdose,” as many initially thought — Watts suggests it was how it was ingested.
“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,” he noted.
Witnesses don’t recall the brand of the energy drink Cripe consumed, but believe it was the size of a large soft drink. What’s more harrowing is that Cripe might have drank a similar amount of caffeine on another day and been all right, according to Watts.
“We’re not trying to speak out totally against caffeine. We believe people need to pay attention to their caffeine intake and how they do it, just as they do with alcohol or cigarettes,” Watts said.
According to a study published last year in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, adolescents need to be more aware about the potential damage that results from caffeine consumption. Statistics show that teens are the fastest-growing population of caffeine users, with 83.2 per cent of teenagers consuming caffeinated drinks on a regular basis and at least 95 per cent occasionally consuming them.
Up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is “safe” for the average healthy adult, according to The Mayo Clinic, equaling abut four regular-sized cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of Coke or two “energy shot” drinks.
Looking at what Cripe drank that day, a 16 oz. McDonald’s latte contains 142 mg of caffeine, a large 20 oz. Mountain Dew has about 90 mg of caffeine and a 16 oz. energy drink can contain anywhere from 86 mg to 240 mg of caffeine, depending on the brand.