ATLANTA (EON) – A caffeine overdose has been ruled the cause of death of a South Carolina teenager last month, a state coroner reported on Monday.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts ruled out the possibility of a pre-existing heart condition and said a caffeine overdose caused 16-year-old Davis Allen Cripe to collapse at school on April 26, the Associated Press reported.
Cripe drank a large Mountain Dew, a McDonald’s latte and an energy drink two hours before he began experiencing arrhythmia, Watts said.
“On this particular day within the two hours prior to his death, we know had consumed a large diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonalds and also some type of energy drink,” Watts said.
According to the FDA, caffeine in doses up to 400 milligrams (about five cups of coffee) is generally safe.
A 12-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew contains 54 milligrams of caffeine.
While McDonald’s doesn’t currently report the amount of caffeine in their coffee, Caffeine Informer estimated a large, 21-24-ounce McDonald’s latte contains 178 milligrams of caffeine.
Watts did not specify which energy drinks were consumed, but in general, a 24-ounce energy drink can contain as much as 500 milligrams of caffeine.
“Davis was a great kid, and being his parent was a great honor to Heidi and me,” Cripe’s father, Sean Cripe, said at Monday’s press conference, his voice breaking. “He had a personality larger than life and a heart of gold. Davis was known for his love of music, making people laugh, being loud, and handing out hugs every day. He also was known for strongly being against drugs and alcohol and encouraged others to avoid that as well. 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…I stand before you as a broken-hearted father and hope that something good can come from this. Parents: please talk to your kids about the dangers of these energy drinks. And teenagers and students: please stop buying them…They can be very dangerous.”
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association last month found energy drink consumers could be at higher risk of abnormal heart beats and dangerous changes in blood pressure.
“These drinks can be very dangerous,” Watts said. “I’m telling my friends and family don’t drink them.”
Cripe’s father said he hopes his son’s death will save other lives by showing the dangers of excessive caffeine consumption, the AP reported.