Death By Pancake: Student Choked At Eating Contest
According to the New York chief medical examiner, a young woman who collapsed after a charity pancake-eating contest died of asphyxia. The New York Daily News reports that 20-year-old college student Caitlin Nelson passed away “due to obstruction of airway by bolus of food.”
Nelson dedicated herself to charity work after her father was killed on 9/11. The Sacred Heart University student collapsed at the school’s Fairfield, Conn., campus last Thursday during the pancake contest. She had reportedly eaten four or five pancakes before she fell on the floor and began convulsing.
Fairfield police and fellow students tried to save Nelson before she was rushed to a hospital in Bridgeport, Conn. While Nelson had food allergies, investigators previously didn’t believe that was the cause.
On Friday, she was transferred to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, where she died earlier this week. The college junior’s father, James Nelson, was a Port Authority police officer who died at the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Nelson was 5 years old at the time.
The Clark, N.J., resident attended Sacred Heart on a scholarship earmarked for victims’ children. Nelson was active with charities, working as a youth mental health counselor for a nonprofit helping students impacted by the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“My heart is broken for Caitlin’s family,” Paul Nunziato, Port Authority Police Benevolent Association president, told the Daily News. “Like her dad, who gave all he possibly could in the final moments of his life so others may live, Caitlin also gave all she could so others live.”