According to the Associated Press, 16-year-old Davis Cripe was in class at Spring Hill High School on April 26 when he started experiencing heart rhythm problems and collapsed at his desk. After an investigation and autopsy, coroner Gary Watts said that the heart arrhythmia that killed Cripe was caused by a caffeine overdose, and there was no evidence that the teenager had a previously undiagnosed heart problem.
Cripe reportedly drank a McDonald’s latte, a large Mountain Dew, and some kind of energy drink in the two hours before his death.
"Based on his weight, the intake of caffeine that he had exceeded what is considered a safe level," Watts said to NBC News.
The Mayo Clinic says that a healthy adult can usually safely drink up to 400 mg of caffeine in a day. That’s approximately the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of soda, or two highly caffeinated energy drinks. Energy drinks vary widely by brand, and some have more than 300 mg of caffeine in a bottle. The specific energy drink Cripe drank before his death is not known, but Watts said that the drinks had a combined caffeine level that was more than a safe amount.
Watts and Cripes parents announced the results of the autopsy at a news conference to help raise awareness of the potentially life-threatening effects of consuming too much caffeine, and to urge parents to talk to their kids about highly caffeinated beverages.