Jacksonville mom pushes for change after she says son died from drinking energy drink

Drew James would have been 26 years old this year.

His mom said he died at age 19 after getting sick after consuming about half of an energy drink.

“When he got to a friend's said he didn’t feel good, got sick to his stomach, actually threw up,” said mother Cheryl James.

His mom said he then had a seizure and died.

She said she believes the Monster Energy drink, called Monster Nitrous, is what killed her son.

“This is the only thing that he did that he doesn’t do every day,” James said.

It was later determined he had cardiomyopathy, or a thickening of the heart.

She said over the years she wrote letters to Rep. Ander Crenshaw and Sen. Bill Nelson, pushing for stricter energy drink rules and regulations.

She’s also been vocal on social media.

“I beg people to try and help us to get the word out; I don’t want someone to feel the way I feel,” said James.

There is a “consume responsibly” label on the back of the monster cans, but James said she wants there to be more of a warning.

She wants there to be a warning for people who may have heart problems.

She also wants there to be an age limit, making it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy an energy drink.

She said she’s sending out more letters to Congressman John Rutherford and Senator Aaron Bean tonight.

“The hole in your heart just never, never goes away,” said James.

She said she’ll also continue to bring awareness on social media and help other parents who are going through something similar.

We reached out to Monster for a statement. An attorney sent us this statement:

While our hearts go out to the family of Andrew James, there is no medical or scientific basis to support any causal connection between Monster Energy drinks and his cardiac arrest or seizure.

Generally Monster Energy drinks contain approximately 10 mg of caffeine per ounce from all sources.  A 16 oz. Monster Energy drink (160 mg of caffeine) has less than half the caffeine as a same-size Starbucks coffee (330 mg of caffeine).  To put in context, a Monster Energy drink has less than half the amount of caffeine as a medium cup of coffee.  Monster Energy drink labels list the total amount of caffeine from all sources.

More than 80 billion energy drinks have been sold and safely consumed worldwide for more than 25 years. More than 18 billion Monster Energy drinks have been sold and safely consumed worldwide for more than 14 years.

In 2012, the United States FDA stated that it "has yet to identify any safety studies that call into question the safety of combinations of various ingredients added to 'energy drinks' under intended conditions of use."

Likewise, in 2013, Health Canada (Canada's FDA counterpart) found there to be no immediate safety concerns with respect to caffeinated energy drinks.

In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (the scientific body advising European regulatory authorities) confirmed the safety of caffeine in combination with other ingredients commonly found in energy drinks.

According to a 2010 media report, Andrew (19) allegedly drank half of a Monster Energy drink. If so, Andrew consumed roughly 80 mg of caffeine (or less caffeine than a quarter of a medium cup of Starbucks coffee).  The medical examiner did not link Andrew's death to caffeine, and instead found he had a thicker than normal heart, according to the media report.

Andrew's untimely and unfortunate death was completely unrelated to the consumption of a Monster Energy drink.

Monster remains confident in, and stands by, the safety of its products.