Just this past April, a South Carolinian teenager died in an unexpected way. 16-year-old Davis Allen Cripe collapsed in class on April 26th after drinking only three caffeinated drinks. He died from a caffeine-induced cardiac event.
Earlier that day, over the course of two hours, Cripe had a McDonald’s caffe latte, a Mountain Dew soda, and another energy drink that could not be identified in the coroner’s report. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts determined in his autopsy that the cardiac event likely caused arrhythmia, which causes abnormal heart rhythm that makes it difficult for the body to pump blood. Watts also determined that Cripe had no preexisting conditions and was healthy, making this accident all the more unusual.
In a news conference this past Monday, Watts stressed to the audience, “This was not an overdose. We lost Davis from a totally legal substance. 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.”
This shocking death should not be ignored as just a freak accident. High school students are especially notorious for overloading on caffeine to cram for tests, do loads of homework, and manage a heavy schedule of sports, work, and extracurriculars. Cripe had no particular susceptibility to caffeine, and he did not drink what is classified as a lethal amount.
“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,” Sean Cripe, father of Davis, said of his son’s death at the press conference.
No one could have seen this coming. The true risks of caffeine are not known to many. Children especially should try to stay away from caffeinated drinks such as Red Bull or Monster. Instead, a serving of fresh fruit and almonds provides an energy boost and is a much healthier alternative to the habit-forming caffeine that many of us depend upon.