SC family advocating for bill that would ban the sale of energy drinks to minors

Updated: Apr. 29, 2019 at 10:23 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Midlands family is advocating for legislation to ban stores from selling energy drinks to minors.

Sean and Heidi Cripe lost their son Davis about two years ago. “He loved life. He lived it loud,” his father said.

Davis was 16-years-old at the time of his death. The Richland County Coroner said Davis died from a caffeine-induced cardiac event. “He had drank an energy drink before class and he had gotten sick really quick. Within a matter of minutes, he had lost his life,” Sean said.

Davis had a coffee, soda, and an energy drink within a two-hour period and collapsed in his classroom.

Now, the Cripe family and other families who find themselves in similar situations, are advocating for H.4352. The bill was filed by Representative Leon Howard (D-Richland) and Rep. Chip Huggins (R-Lexington). A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee listened to testimony from the Cripe family and doctors Thursday.

Some health care professionals who consultant beverage companies say lawmakers should look at the science before making a decision on the bill.

Dr. Ashley Roberts, a toxicologist and the Senior Vice President for the Food & Nutrition Group at Intertek said some of the ingredients found in energy drink are also used in regulated products like baby formula.

“Fatal caffeine overdose from energy drink ingestion is impossible,” he said.

Dr. Donna Seger, an emergency physician, and medical toxicologist said, “Diagnosis of death caused by a drug is a diagnosis of exclusion. You need to make sure everything else is okay. The heart is okay, the kidney is okay and then you need to look at the drug.”

The Cripes know a piece of legislation can’t bring their son back, but they hope their story can save lives. His mother Heidi said, “It’ll be huge. Not only for our son Davis but knowing that here on out other kids in South Carolina will be protected.”

The bill would also fine make it unlawful for a person to sell, furnish, give, or distribute an energy drink to a minor under the age of 18 years. Anyone who violates this would be fined at least $50.

The subcommittee voted to move the bill to the full committee.

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