SANTA FE, N.M., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A New Mexico woman thought to have died after her son punched her in the face actually died of a caffeine overdose, medical investigators say.
New Mexico's Office of the Medical Investigator said Ruth Ann Smith's death certificate now indicates she was "assaulted while caffeine intoxicated," the Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday.
Death by caffeine overdose is extremely rare, the paper said, with only two such incidents reported in 2003. A person would have to consume 5 to 10 grams, of caffeine to suffer an overdose, the paper said. A cup of coffee contains up to 150 milligrams of caffeine while stimulant tablets such as No Doz and Vivarin and diet pills contain 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine each.
It was unknown how Smith had ingested so much caffeine, but Stepetic said the amount was "extremely, extremely high, maybe three times the lethal limit for caffeine in the body."
Despite the new findings, charges against Smith's son, Eric Smith, will stand because the doctor who examined her "said that the injury (from being struck) contributed to the death," said OMI spokesman Tim Stepetic.