Davis Allen Cripe was 16 years old when he passed away. The sophomore collapsed during class at Spring Hill High School in Chapin, SC, and though authorities conducted an autopsy shortly after his death, the results were inconclusive. But today, Vice reports that the coroner's office released Cripe's reason for death and it's pretty surprising.
"We lost Davis from a totally legal substance," Richland County coroner Gary Watts said at a press conference. "It was so much caffeine at the time of his death, that it caused his arrhythmia."
An arrhytmia can either slow the heart rate, speed it up — which is what caffeine does — and even make it erratic. In Cripe's case, it was the result of his consuming a "large Mountain Dew, a latte from McDonald's, and an energy drink" in quick succession. The magazine explains that while some arrhythmias are harmless, sometimes, they can be deadly.
Cripe's autopsy didn't reveal any sort of undiagnosed heart issue and actually concluded that he was in good health. But the sheer amount of caffeine that he consumed affected him abnormally. It's not common by any means, but Watts explained that people react to caffeine in different ways.
"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," he said during the press conference.
Cripe's father, Sean, emphasized the dangers that come with consuming energy drinks, saying, "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."
The USDA sets its recommended upper limit for caffeine at 400 milligrams per day. Vice reports that eight ounces of coffee contain between 95 and 200 milligrams, so most people are well within the guidelines.
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