A mother-of-eight who had an up to 10-litre a day
Coca-Cola drinking habit never knew that excessive consumption
of the beverage was contributing to her health problems, an
inquest into her sudden death heard yesterday.
The Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar heard that Natasha
Marie Harris died, aged 30, after a cardiac arrest.
At the time of her death, her partner Chris Hodgkinson
spoke out that it was the result of drinking too much
Coca-cola and held the company responsible for her death, a
claim Coca-Cola rejected but the company was sufficiently
concerned that they hired a security firm to protect their
Hodgkinson told the court that she had been unwell up to a
year before her death, including vomiting six times a week,
but Ms Harris, himself and family members believed it was
from the stress of managing her eight children and
"She drank at least 10 litres a day. As a family we would buy
four 2.5 litres a day, the maximum on special. The Coke would
be for Natasha to consume over the course of the day. The
first thing she would do in the morning was have a drink of
Coke and the last thing she would do in the day was have a
drink of Coke by her bed.''
Police estimated she consumed, on average, seven litres a
He said she was addicted to Coke and without it she would get
moody, irritable and be low in energy. Yet, he never
suspected that the beverage was making her ill.
"I never thought about it. It's just a soft drink, just like
drinking water. I didn't think a soft drink was going to kill
Medical evidence stated that the main finding of death was
from a cardiac arrhythmia.
Dr Dan Mornin told the court Harris probably had severe
hypokalemia, a lack of potassium in the blood, relating to
excessive consumption of soft-drink.
He said although it was difficult to confirm this from
post-mortem tests, it was consistent with her symptoms of
tiredness and lack of strength and other cases of heavy
soft-drink consumers, and it was likely her daily vomiting
was due to too much caffeine, medically known as caffeine
- Juliet Larkin