Coroner: South Carolina teen died from caffeine overdose

A 16-year-old died after he reportedly consumed caffeine-loaded soft drinks, coffee, and an energy drink in a two-hour period.

WLTX reported that Davis Allen Cripe collapsed at Spring Hill High School on April 26 and later died at a hospital. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts told the station on Monday that caffeine caused the fatal cardiac event, as the South Carolina teen drank a plethora of caffeinated drinks that day—including a large diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte, and an unidentified energy drink.

“We lost Davis from a totally legal substance.”

An initial autopsy couldn’t identify Cripe’s cause of death. However, additional tests were able to pinpoint what killed the 16-year-old, according to the station.

Watts told NBC News that a medical examiner and a forensic toxicologist determined Cripe took in an unsafe amount of caffeine given his weight.

The coroner also said the late teen had no family history of conditions which would be aggravated by caffeine consumption.

“This is what’s dangerous about this [caffeine],” Watts commented. “You can have five people line up and all of them do the exact same thing with him that day, drink more, and it may not have any type of effect on them at all. It’s not something that just because you drink one drink or three drinks is necessarily going to have this effect on.”

The Palmetto Poison Center at the University of South Carolina issued a warning in light of the teen’s death. While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends teens don’t consume any caffeine, Jill Michels, PharmD, Director of the Palmetto Poison Center, told WBTW that parents should still educate their children about the risks of caffeine intake and the harm caffeinated drinks can do.

At a Monday news conference, the 16-year-old’s father, Sean Cripe, issued his own warning:

“I stand before you as a broken-hearted father and hope that something good can come from this. Parents, please, talk to your kids about the dangers of these energy drinks. And teenagers and students, please stop buying them. There’s no reason to consume them they can be very dangerous.”


[Featured Image: WIS-TV]