A 16-year-old student in Spring Hill, South Carolina who collapsed during a class last month was determined to have died of a caffeine overdose, according to a report released by the county coroner on Monday. Specifically, the cause of death was cited as a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probably arrhythmia”. An investigation determined that Davis Allen Cripe consumed a large Diet Mountain Dew, a McDonald’s latte and an unnamed energy drink before collapsing. The first drink he consumed was purchased from McDonald’s at 12:30 PM on April 26, and he collapsed around two hours later. He was declared dead at Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital at 3:40 PM. The autopsy failed to find an undiagnosed heart condition that could have contributed to Cripe’s death.
At school, Cripe was known for participating in anti-drug and alcohol abuse activities, and the coroner posited that Cripe may have been unaware of the full effects of caffeine. “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. We lost Davis from a totally legal substance,” the coroner stated in his report. The report also clarified that it is unlikely that everyone who consumed the same drinks would have suffered the same result. “You can have five people line up right here and all of them do the exact same thing that happened with him that day, drink more, and it may not have any kind of effect on them at all,” the report said. Other coroners in South Carolina commented that dying from a caffeine-induced episode is very rare. That being said, South Carolina has followed in the footsteps of other health-concerned states and banned the sale of energy drinks on school campuses in the past.