Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A South Carolina teen dies after caffeine overload, leaving others to wonder: How much caffeine is too much?

The story of South Carolina's Davis Cripe seems, at first, almost unbelievable:

Authorities said the healthy 16-year-old died in a high school classroom after drinking a large amount of caffeine in a short amount of time.

While the teen died under rare circumstances, Dr. Fadi Matar, a Tampa cardiologist, said adults and teens still need to be aware of the dangerous risks that come with caffeine-packed drinks and "booster" shots.

"It's not common, thank God, because there's a lot of kids, young people, who are using these drinks these days to boost their energy," said Matar, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Tampa General Hospital. "The problem is that it can cause a rhythmic disturbance in the heart."

That's exactly what Richland County coroner Gary Watts determined: On April 26, Cripe's heart fell out of rhythm after he had a large diet Mountain Dew, a latte from McDonald's and an energy drink within a two-hour span.

"Like all parents we worry about our kids when they grow up — their safety, their health, especially when they start to drive," said Sean Cripe, the boy's father, in a news conference Monday. "But it wasn't a car crash that took his life, it was an energy drink."

Matar said some people can be predisposed to a similar cardiac event without ever being aware of an irregularity. Some, he said, wouldn't even be detectable through an autopsy because the problem "is not structural, but electrical."

"And if they've never had an event, and they take more than what they should in caffeine, that can trigger the event and kill a person," the doctor said.

And even someone who is not predisposed to that condition can still have a similar reaction if their caffeine intake is too high. One can even become intoxicated by caffeine, causing jitters, increased heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia and cardiac arrhythmia.

Matar is especially concerned by energy drinks that are like "booster" shots with high concentrations of caffeine. He advises against their use in general, but said they shouldn't be ingested in addition to coffee.

The USDA allows caffeinated beverages in high schools, but says schools should be cautious about which ones they're selecting to sell. In Pinellas County, students talk about caffeine when they discuss the dangers of other stimulants in class, said school district spokeswoman Lisa Wolf.

Matar encourages parents to talk with their children about caffeine like they would any other drug.

"If I hear my child is having an excessive intake of those 'Monster' drinks ... I'm going to have a chat," he said. "A cup of coffee here or there is fine, but I strongly urge parents to know what their kids are drinking."

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

A coroner says a healthy 16-year-old South Carolina high school student died from heart problems after drinking too much caffeine. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Davis Cripe drank a large Mountain Dew, a latte from McDonald?€™s and an energy drink in the two hours before his heart fell out of rhythm at Spring Hill High School on April 26. [Photo from video]

A coroner says a healthy 16-year-old South Carolina high school student died from heart problems after drinking too much caffeine. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Davis Cripe drank a large Mountain Dew, a latte from McDonald?€™s and an energy drink in the two hours before his heart fell out of rhythm at Spring Hill High School on April 26. [Photo from video]

A South Carolina teen dies after caffeine overload, leaving others to wonder: How much caffeine is too much? 05/16/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 12:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  2. For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Blake Snell starting, Wilson Ramos cashing in

    Blogs

    The Rays open their final road series of the season tonight at Yankee Stadium, which is also where they played their first of the season.

    LHP Blake Snell will be on the mound for the Rays, looking to continue his successful late-season run, in which he is 4-0, 2,57 over his last eight starts.

  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments

    Bucs

    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Massive crocodile seen roaming the streets, and there was only 1 thing a cop could do

    Wildlife

    Name one thing you really don't want to see around 4 a.m. walking around your neighborhood.

    Watch out for that croc.

    A crocodile was seen roaming a street in Miami-Dade.
  5. Pinellas County Sheriff's employee resigns under investigation related to domestic violence arrest

    Crime

    LARGO — A civilian Pinellas County Sheriff's Office employee resigned Tuesday while under an internal investigation that began after he was arrested on domestic battery charges.

    Joshua Volz resigned Tuesday from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. He had been under investigation after he was arrested for domestic battery, according to police. [Pinellas County Jail]