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A Teenager Died After Drinking Too Much Caffeine

Davis Allen Cripe died after drinking a diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonald's, and an energy drink within two hours, a coroner ruled.

Posted on May 16, 2017, at 12:23 p.m. ET

A 16-year-old student in South Carolina died last month after consuming too many caffeinated drinks within two hours, a coroner said Monday.

Davis Allen Cripe died in a hospital on April 26 after collapsing in a classroom at Spring Hill High School in Chapin.

On Monday, the Richland County Coroner ruled that he died from a "caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia."

"Davis, on this particular day within the two hours prior to his death, had consumed a large diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonald's, and also some type of energy drink," coroner Gary Watts said at a press conference.

Watts could not specify which energy drink Cripe consumed.

"It was so much caffeine at the time of his death that it caused arrhythmia," Watts sad, referring to a condition marked by an irregular heartbeat.

Watts told BuzzFeed News that according to eyewitnesses the biggest issue was that Davis "slammed or chugged the regular-sized energy drink 15 minutes before he passed out."

"That was the biggest issue, how he consumed that energy drink," Watts said.

Davis did not use alcohol or drugs and the autopsy did not reveal any underlying medical conditions that may have played a role in his death, the coroner said.

"This is not an addictive type of situation with him at all,” he added.

Based on his weight, Davis's intake of caffeine exceeded what is considered to be a safe level in that time period of two hours, Watts told BuzzFeed News.

For healthy adults, the FDA has said that 400 milligrams of caffeine — about four to five cups of coffee — is an amount "not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects."

Instagram / Via Instagram: @mcdonalds

A 20-ounce diet Mountain Dew contains 91 milligrams of caffeine, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

McDonalds doesn't report the amount of caffeine in its coffees.

The amount of caffeine in 27 top-selling energy drinks ranges anywhere from about 6 milligrams to 242 milligrams per serving— with some containers having more than one serving, according to a 2012 Consumer Reports study.

Watts told BuzzFeed News that while this is "obviously something that doesn't happen often," it could "certainly be a possibility for anyone, especially if they have a sensitivity to caffeine and depending on how they drink it."

He said that Davis had consumed those drinks before and it hadn't affected him in this way.

"I think time was an important factor, but also it was the so-called perfect storm that occurred that day," Watts said.

"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," Watts said at the press conference. "We lost Davis from a completely legal substance."

"I stand before you as a brokenhearted father and hope that something good can come from this," said Sean Cripe, Davis' father. /

"Parents please talk to your kids about the danger of these energy drinks," Cripe said. "And teenagers and students, please don’t buy them. There's no reason to consume them. They can be very dangerous."

"It wasn't a car crash that took his life," Cripe said. "Instead, it was an energy drink."

However, the coroner said that the purpose of revealing these details was "not to slam" Mountain Dew, cafe lattes, and energy drinks.

"We want to make people understand that these drinks, this amount of caffeine, how it's ingested, can have dire consequences," Watts said. "And that's what happened in this case."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.