A normal Sunday turned out to be the worst day of our lives. My healthy 31-year-old son Bruce (Buddy) Lowe was enjoying his first weekend off work in [seven] weeks with his family. He worked at a local Nuclear plant as an electrical apprentice with IBEW Local 175 Union. He was also a full-time student at his Apprenticeship School. He was the proudest father on earth of his girls. He had [two] daughters that were 9 and his new baby girl that was 11 months. He always strived to be the best he could be. He worked [seven] days a week, 10 to 16 hours daily sometimes, and to help him get through those long shifts, he did what we all thought was healthy and harmless — he drank what was advertised as ‘all natural’ energy drinks.
He drank energy drinks daily for about [five] years without any adverse effects. He never had any warning signs, ate [healthily] and worked out as much as possible. He donated his every spare moment to volunteer as coach of recreation baseball at our local school. He loved children with a passion and they, in turn, loved him.
He has never done drugs and always tried to steer teens away from them. He made a huge impact on many children in our community and that showed at his funeral. The kids still today talk fondly of their memories with ‘Coach Buddy.’
February 11, 2018, my son had dinner and an energy drink then sat to enjoy his evening with his family. He was holding his 11-month-old daughter on his sofa when all of a sudden, he went stiff and started making a gurgling sound. I was taking my shower at my home to get ready for bed when the call came in. As I turned the water off, I glanced at the phone number I had just missed. It was my son’s fiancée’s number. It shocked me because she rarely calls me so I immediately hit the return call button on my phone. She was panicked, asking, ‘Has Buddy ever had a seizure?’ I said, ‘NO! WHY DO YOU ASK?’ She stated, ‘I think he is having a seizure!’ Then immediately she said, ‘CALL 911 — HE JUST STOPPED BREATHING!’
As I run through my home undressed screaming for his father to get to his home, I was calling 911. As we drove at speeds excess of 130 mph, I was on the phone calling 911 telling them the only thing I knew at that time… ‘MY SON IS NOT BREATHING!’ I then called every neighbor closer to him than I was begging them all to go to him and breathe for him until we got there. During this time his fiancée was doing CPR. We arrived at his home to find him still not breathing so his father did CPR until my daughter and son-in-law arrived and my son-in-law started helping my husband. The two of them continued CPR for what seemed like [an] eternity until the EMS arrived. Paramedics took over and rushed him to the ER. Doctors almost immediately came to the waiting room and took us back to where we found a team of doctors and nurses still doing CPR. They had tubes and IVs everywhere it seemed.
After [four] more rounds of CPR, in front of us, the doctor stated, ‘We are sorry, we have done all we could.’ I passed out. It made no sense. How can this happen? He wasn’t sick. He had no health issues. He had no heart problems. I demanded an autopsy because I was sure someone had killed my son. My ONLY SON… MY BABY! I told them to check for poison… for anything that could have been snuck into his food or drink, and to look for a needle mark in case someone stuck a needle in him to murder him… but none of that was true… I was spinning out of control.
We were devastated because this doesn’t just happen to healthy young men. We waited [six] weeks for the autopsy to be performed. But when the initial report came back, it showed no reason for his cardiac arrest. So they did more extensive testing that is not normally done. The results were shocking. When the medical examiner called me to explain the autopsy, I was in such shock that I STILL couldn’t believe what he was saying. He assured me I need not worry about anything genetic causing my son’s death. That I do not need to be concerned about my daughter or my grandchildren having a heart condition, unless they drank energy drinks. His last words to me were, ‘warn others to stay away from these energy drinks that ultimately stopped your son’s heart.’
My son’s toxicology report came back negative to everything except stimulants.
At that point, I started [to] research and was shocked to find out my son was not an isolated case. Actually, he is by far not the only death at the hands of these. Other deaths have been linked directly to energy drinks but sadly there are no restrictions and no regulations on these drinks because they pose as ‘supplements.’ Therefore the FDA does no testing. People often compare these drinks to multiple cups of coffee, and they are not the same thing. People who buy energy drinks are being deceived because the amount of caffeine they see on the label is not factual. There are multiple masked forms of additional caffeine sources and stimulants that are included in the ‘proprietary energy blends.’
My son left behind [three] girls that now do not have a father. He left his mother forever shattered and his father without his son. His sister is trying to cope with a loss we have never known. His nieces and nephews are devastated. His fiancée is beyond crushed.
I’ve connected with another woman whose husband died from consuming energy drinks as well. The doctor explained to her it only takes one energy drink to throw off the rhythm of your heart causing heart arrhythmia. He explained they were seeing a lot more cases with people coming in suffering cardiac events caused by energy drinks, especially with people who were mixing them with alcohol. His exact words were, ‘people drinking these drinks are playing Russian Roulette with their lives.’
Please help us stop these senseless deaths.
**This story was written by Loretta Lowe and originally appeared on Love What Matters.