The death of a child is devastating. But the senseless death of child, a death that could have been prevented, is doubly heartbreaking.
And so it is for Sean and Heidi Cripe, whose 16-year-old son died in his classroom at a South Carolina school back in April 2017.
The coroner ruled he had heart failure after drinking too much caffeine. He said Daniel Cripe died of “cardiac arrhythmia”, a condition where the heart stops beating properly as a result of consuming too much caffeine. Cripe had a large Mountain Dew, a McDonald’s latte, and an energy drink in just a short time before he collapsed two hours later.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends adults consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day – that’s about four or five cups of brewed coffee. The Cripe family is focusing on the energy drink, since they can contain upwards of 300 milligrams of caffeine in one can.
The number of teenagers who consume energy drinks is shocking. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health, reports that one-third of teens between 12 and 17-years of age consume energy drinks.
In large part due to the efforts of the Cripes, South Carolina State Representative Leon Howard has sponsored a bill that would make it illegal to sell or give an energy drink to anyone under 18 years of age. Violators could face a misdemeanor charge resulting in a $50 fine.
But for the parents of Daniel, they only want to know that another family will never go through what they’ve experienced. As the bill was introduced, Sean Cripe spoke to reporters, “I stand before you as a brokenhearted father and hope that something good can come from this. 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 consumer them. They can be very dangerous.”