A shocking incident out of South Carolina has experts discussing how much is too much when it comes to a perfectly legal substance: caffeine. After consuming three highly caffeinated beverages in a two-hour period, 16-year-old student Davis Allen Cripe collapsed and died in April, reports WYFF 4. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts has now confirmed that the cause of death was a caffeine-induced cardiac event. According to the State, after Davis drank a large Diet Mountain Dew, a McDonald’s latte, and an energy drink within a two-hour period, he collapsed in class. He was pronounced dead at the hospital just over an hour later. Cripe’s father Sean says his son was healthy at the time of his death, and Davis’ autopsy revealed no pre-existing heart conditions. "It was so much caffeine at the time of his death, that it caused his arrhythmia," Watts says.
“Davis, like so many other kids and so many other people out there today, was doing something [he] thought was totally harmless, and that was ingesting lots of caffeine,” Watts says, adding that because caffeinated drinks affect people differently, it’s difficult to gauge an exact limit. Consumer Affairs reported in 2015 that the issue is especially relevant to teens, with nearly 31% of 12- to 19-year-olds consuming energy drinks regularly. Of 5,448 caffeine overdoses in 2007, 46% occurred in people under 19, and those with underlying heart problems are especially vulnerable. In a tearful press conference Monday (see video above), Sean Cripes urged parents and teens to learn from what happened to his son, who was known for loving music and giving out hugs. “It wasn't a car crash that took his life,” Sean says. “Instead, it was an energy drink." (Another teen died after drinking three energy drinks within a 24-hour period.)