Local doctor explains why too much caffeine can be fatal

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - The death of a 16-year-old South Carolina boy is serving as an eye-opening alert for those who consume caffeine.

“The purpose here today is not to slam Mountain Dew or to slam cafe lattes or energy drinks,” said Gary Watts, Richland County Coroner. “But what we want to do today is make people understand these drinks, this amount of caffeine, how it's ingested, can have dire consequences and that's what happened in this case.”

David Allen Cripe died April 26 after consuming a McDonald’s cafe latte, a diet Mountain Dew, and an unnamed energy drink in less than two hours.

“II stand before you as a broken-hearted father and hope something good can come from this,” said Sean Cripe, David Allen Cripe's father. “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 coroner determined the cause of death as a caffeine-induced cardiac event, causing probable arrhythmia. It's a wakeup call for parents and teens everywhere.

“But with energy drinks, the range is very wide; from 100 milligrams to several hundred milligrams,” said Dr. Mathew Broom, SLUCare Pediatrician at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. “I think our kids see just an energy drink but not what`s inside of it. And if you start taking one thing and adding onto it, that can start to have some effects.”

“Adolescents the recommendation is not more than 100 milligrams a day, which would be about a cup of coffee or certainly over that what you’d get in a 12 ounce soda. I think the hard thing is teaching restraints to adolescents and with peer pressure, and if you’ve got an energy drink, (they) hear the word ‘energy’ and that’s kind of exciting.”