The parents of Davis Allen Cripe never want to see other parents in their shoes.
With the help of S.C. legislators, Sean and Heidi Cripe have pledged to see South Carolina ban the sale of the caffeine cocktails that killed their 16-year-old son.
State Rep. Leon Howard, D-Richland, has proposed legislation that would make it illegal to sell or give an energy drink to anyone under 18 years old. Knowingly violating the law would result in a misdemeanor charge and, upon conviction, a fine of least $50 for every violation.
That legislation could have helped save Davis Cripe's life, the bill's advocates say.
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Cripe, a healthy Spring Hill High School student, collapsed in a classroom and died a year ago after drinking too much caffeine.
Cripe's official cause of death was a "caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia," a result of drinking a large Diet Mountain Dew, a fast-food cafe latte and an energy drink over the course of two hours, the Richland County Coroner's Office said.
"It stopped his heart right there. They (EMS) weren't able to revive him, and he went to heaven that day," Cripe's father, Sean, told the S.C. House Minority Caucus last week.
Since 2012, poison control centers nationwide have recorded 2,214 cases of young people, ages zero to 19, getting sick after ingesting caffeine-containing energy drinks. That number includes 1,911 cases in teens ages 13 to 19 years old, according to the American Association of Poison Control Center.
In 2011, nearly 1,500 teens went to the emergency room for an energy-drink-related emergency, up from about 1,145 in 2007, the Centers for Disease Control reported.
Statewide numbers were not available Monday.
Only one teenager has died in the past five years after ingesting an energy drink the Poison Control Center reported: Cripes.
“While adults should be mindful of their caffeine consumption, it’s important for parents to know the risks of children and adolescents consuming caffeine," Jill Michels, head of the Palmetto Poison Center, said in a statement after Cripe's death.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends adults consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day — an average of four to five cups of coffee.
Energy drinks can contain far more caffeine — up to 300 milligrams.
Federal guidelines bar the sale of energy drinks on school campuses. Some S.C. schools even have pulled caffeinated sodas from their vending machines.
An outright ban on the sale of energy drinks to teens under age 18 has no chance of becoming law this year, having missed Tuesday's crossover deadline for legislation to pass either the House or Senate. The proposed ban now is sitting in a House committee.
Still, state Rep. Chip Huggins, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said Monday he wants to ensure no other family loses a child because of an energy drink.
"I don't want to see anyone in that position," said the Lexington Republican, whose district includes the Cripes family. "You look at these high-volume caffeine drinks, and there's no age restriction. There's nothing. Goodness gracious, anyone at any age can drink them."
Sean Cripe said he will continue pushing Howard's bill next year.
"He was a good kid," Sean Cripes said of his son, Davis. "He didn't drink any alcohol. He didn't do drugs. He helped turn his friends and people at school away from that stuff. Yet, this was something that was legal. He wouldn't have been drinking it had he known having one of them could have taken his life."