Coroner: Caffeine overdose from soda, coffee and energy drink led to death of S.C. teen

Excessive caffeine led to the death of 16-year-old Davis Allen Cripe last month, a South Carolina coroner said Monday.

» RELATED: How dangerous are energy drinks, really? Study finds link to serious heart problems

According to the Associated Press, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts ruled out the possibility of a pre-existing heart condition and  said a caffeine overdose caused Cripe to collapse in his high school classroom on April 26.

The S.C. teen drank a large Mountain Dew, a McDonald’s latte and an energy drink two hours before he began experiencing arrhythmia, Watts said.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, caffeine in doses up to 400 mg (about five cups of coffee) is generally safe.

» RELATED: World’s strongest coffee finally available in U.S., but beware of health risks

A bottle of Mountain Dew (12 oz.) contains 54 milligrams of caffeine. 

While McDonald’s doesn’t currently report the amount of caffeine in their coffee, Caffeine Informer estimates a large McDonald’s latte (21-24 oz.) contains 178 milligrams of caffeine.

Watts did not specify which energy drinks were consumed, but in general, a 24-oz. energy drink can contain as much as 500 milligrams of caffeine.

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association last month found energy drink consumers could be at higher risk of abnormal heart beats and dangerous changes in blood pressure.

» RELATED: Are energy drinks safe? For some, there are questions.

"The purpose here today is not to slam Mountain Dew, not to slam cafe lattes or energy drinks. But what we want to do is to make people understand that these drinks — this amount of caffeine, how it's ingested, can have dire consequences. And that's what happened in this case," Watts said in a news conference.

Cripe’s father said he hopes his son’s death will save other lives by showing the dangers of excessive caffeine consumption, the AP reported.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.