Excessive caffeine caused death of “healthy teen,” coroner says

Davis Cripe / FOX 19
Davis Cripe / FOX 19

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — Too much caffeine caused the death of a 16-year-old high school student in South Carolina, according to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts.

A news conference was held Monday to discuss the results of the investigation into the death of Davis Allen Cripe, who died April 26 at Palmetto Health Parkridge Hospital after collapsing in a classroom.

Watts said Cripe’s death was “from a totally legal substance” and determined Cripe died from a caffeine-induced cardiac event after drinking an energy beverage along with other caffeinated drinks.

He added the teen was healthy to that point and didn’t use alcohol or drugs. There were no signs of underlying medical issues that could’ve been a factor, Watts said.

“It was so much caffeine at the time of his death, that it caused his arrhythmia,” he said.

However, like many people, Cripe wasn’t aware of the risks of ingesting a high amount of caffeine, Watts said.

There was enough caffeine in a McDonald’s cafe latte, Diet Mountain Dew and an unspecified energy drink to put a severe strain on his heart.

“These drinks can be very dangerous,” Watts said. “I’m telling my friends and family don’t drink them.”

Cripe’s parents also attended the news conference and urged parents to talk to their children about the risks.

Watts said this is the first such case that he knows of in Richland County since he has been the county coroner.

Experts also point out that energy drinks often contain other stimulants like ginseng and guarana which can add to the effects of caffeine.

This story originally appeared on FOX 19. Click here to see the report.

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