​Can Energy Drinks Kill? A South Carolina Teen’s Family Says Yes

Energy drinks can be purchased almost anywhere you go, from gas stations and supermarkets to clubs and restaurants. In today’s fast-paced world, where work and day-to-day responsibilities take priority over sleep, they’re a go-to just to get through the day. Most people know that energy drinks aren’t “good” for them, but what many people fail to understand is that energy drinks can be very dangerous — one South Carolina teen’s family found this out the hard way and now, the state may be banning the sale of energy drinks to minors.

A Sudden Collapse Leads to a Terrifying Discovery

On the morning of April 26, 2017, 16-year-old Davis Allen Cope began his day like any other at Spring Hill High School in Chapin, South Carolina. Over the course of two hours around lunchtime, the teen consumed a Mountain Dew, a McDonald’s latte, and an unnamed energy drink. The teen collapsed in a classroom at around 2:28 p.m. and was transported by EMS to Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts ruled the boy’s death the result of a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia.” Cope’s father later spoke out, saying the teen had no preexisting medical conditions that could have been exacerbated by the caffeine.

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

While many people assume that Cope’s death was the result of a deadly trifecta of caffeine-laden beverages, Dr. Amy Durso, deputy chief medical examiner for Richland County, says “a cup of coffee, a can of soda isn’t going to cause this thing.” After seeing a rise in the number of emergency room visits and deaths due to energy drinks, the Journal of the American Heart Association published a recent study that indicated heart rhythm and blood pressure were significantly higher in subjects that consumed energy drinks compared to those who consumed only caffeine. An older study, conducted by the Mayo Clinic, showed that just a single energy drink can increase blood pressure and norepinephrine levels significantly, which, in turn, can lead to an increased risk of adverse cardiac events, even in healthy individuals.

South Carolina Considers Energy Drink Ban for Minors

The evidence is piling up and along with the tragic death of Cope last year, the state is now considering banning the sale of energy drinks to minors. State Representative Leon Howard proposed a bill that would impose a $50 fine and a misdemeanor charge to those caught selling an energy drink to anyone under the age of 18. Supporters of the bill, including Cope’s parents, argue that the law would have saved the boy’s life if it had been in place last year.

Are Energy Drink Manufacturers Responsible Too?

While Cope’s death seems to be an isolated case, data gathered from the American Association of Poison Control Centers from 2010-2013 painted a different picture. Of the 5,156 calls that came in for the ingestion of energy drinks, a staggering 40% of them were for children. Currently, energy drinks are not labeled with caffeine content or as potentially hazardous to minors. Additionally, the marketing efforts of many energy drink companies position the beverages to have a distinct appeal to a younger population. Can companies be held responsible for deaths like Cope’s? Perhaps.

When a Wrongful Death Attorney Needs to Be Involved

When a previously healthy individual dies unexpectedly after consuming an energy drink, it’s not difficult to determine the cause. Families who have lost loved ones due to the dangers of energy drinks may be eligible to compensation — not only from negligent store owners and managers who sell to minors if Howard’s bill passes, but also from companies who have failed to warn parents and children of the dangerous effects of their energy drinks.

If you have lost a loved one due to energy drink consumption, don’t wait to reach out to a wrongful death attorney. Call now for a consultation and get the help you need finding justice for your loved one.