Teen Dies After Consuming 'Totally Legal Substance.' Now His Parents Want to Ban Energy Drinks for Minors


Davis Cripe, 16, was a sophomore at Spring Hill High School in South Carolina. He worked at The Plex Indoor Sports and was involved in Fusion Youth Group at Chapin United Methodist Church.

Like many high school students, he had rewarding relationships with his friends and family. He had a passion for music and making people laugh.

His choice of beverages was not unlike other teens his age, either. Sadly, the totally legal substance each of these drinks had in common had devastating consequences.

On April 26 around 12:30 p.m., Cripe drank a McDonald’s latte. He then drank a Diet Mountain Dew.

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A little bit of time had passed after drinking the soda before he then consumed an energy drink. He collapsed at 2:28 p.m. in class.

EMS was called, and he was taken to Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital. Tragically, he was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m.

It was not excessive drinking or the use of drugs that killed this teen. In fact, he was an advocate for not drinking or doing drugs.

How could a teen as healthy and happy as Cripe suddenly pass away after consuming a latte, soda, and an energy drink in the span of two hours? Caffeine is not as harmless as many think.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts explained that a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia” was the official cause of death. This official cause of death is distinctly different than labeling the death as simply a “caffeine overdose.”

There appeared to be no medical problem aggravated by the caffeine such as an underlying heart condition. Before vowing to never drink even a single ounce of a caffeinated beverage again, it is important to note that the risk lies in the combination of the amount of caffeine and the time frame in which it was consumed rather than any caffeine regardless of the other factors.

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According to The Slate, Watts stated, “Davis, like so many other kids and so many other people out there today, was doing something (he) thought was totally harmless, and that was ingesting lots of caffeine. We lost Davis from a totally legal substance.”

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Sean Cripe, Davis Cripe’s father, has now pleaded with parents to have a serious discussion regarding the dangers of excessive caffeine with their children. Though Cripe’s heartbreaking experience with caffeine and resulting death is extremely rare, its implicit warning for others may save lives from the seemingly harmless drinks containing caffeine.

UPDATE, May 2, 2019: Since the passing of 16-year-old Davis Cripe, his parents have joined in the support of bill H.4352 filed by Representative Leon Howard and Representative Chip Huggins in South Carolina. The bill would ban energy drinks sales to those under 18 years of age.

This article had previously been archived by The Western Journal but was republished on May 2, 2019, with an updated headline based on the above-noted bill proposal.

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Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College.
Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College. Carolyn's writing has been featured in both online and print media, including Just Between Us magazine. She resides in Phoenix with her husband and children.
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