What started out as an ordinary day for Davis Allen Cripe, ended in a tragedy when the 16-year-old South Carolina native collapsed inside his classroom on April 26.
The Spring Hill High School student died of a heart attack. The cause – consuming too much caffeine. Cripe is believed to have consumed three caffeinated drinks – a café latte, large Diet Mountain Dew and an energy drink – all in just two hours. He collapsed soon after.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts believes that too much caffeine in the teenager’s system caused arrhythmia. According to mayoclinic.org, “Heart rhythm problems (heart arrhythmias) occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats don’t work properly, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.”
This could mean that the heart may fail to pump enough blood to the body, which, in turn, affects various organs.
Davis’ father Sean Cripe gave a statement during the press conference last Monday. He says, “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.”
According to Mr. Watts, Davis had bought the latte café latte at McDonald’s at around 12:30 p.m. After that, he drank the Diet Mountain Dew and the energy drink.
Davis collapsed at the school just before 2:30 p.m., two hours after buying the latte. He was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m.
Davis was a perfectly healthy teenager. His autopsy showed no pre-existing heart conditions. His body was also free from drugs and alcohol, according to Mr. Watts.
“This was not an overdose. We lost Davis from a totally legal substance,” Mr. Watts said. “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.”
In 2013, Mita Diran, a copywriter from Jakarta, Indonesia died after tweeting “30 hours of working and still going strooong.” Her co-workers blamed energy drinks for the 24-year-old’s death.
In October 2013, just less than two months before Ms. Diran’s death, an $85 million wrongful death suit was filed against Red Bull, after Cory Terry, a 35-year-old father from Brooklyn, died of a fatal heart attack after drinking Red Bull. Mr. Terry was a regular Red Bull drinker.
Red Bull is banned in Denmark, Norway, and Uruguay.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents, age 12 to 18, should not consume more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day – that’s roughly the amount of caffeine in one regular cup of coffee. Caffeine is known to elevate one’s blood pressure, so too much of it is not healthy.
Adults, on the other hand, may consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is equivalent to four or five cups of coffee, without experiencing side effects, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
A 2014 study found an estimated 73% of children consume some kind of caffeine each day. While there is no designated standard for children, according to the US Food and Drug Administration adults can consume 400 milligrams of caffeine per day — equivalent to four or five cups of coffee — without experiencing side effects.
Caffeine can help us stay alert as it is a stimulant. However, it is also mildly addictive. According to the National Capital Poison Center, when too much of it is consumed, symptoms can manifest such as shaky hands or an upset stomach. More severe symptoms include high blood pressure, seizures and coma.
Mr. Sean Cripe hopes that his son’s death will serve as a lesson to parents and kids, and that it makes them realize consuming too much caffeinated drinks can be fatal.
“Parents, please talk to your kids about the dangers of these energy drinks,” he said.