College Student Dies After Pancake-Eating Contest

Caitlin Nelson apparently choked
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2017 2:44 PM CDT
Absurd Tragedy Hits Family a Second Time
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / MJFelt)

Caitlin Nelson was just 5 years old when her father, James Nelson, a Port Authority police officer, was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack. Sixteen years later, tragedy struck the Nelson family again when Caitlin, a student at Connecticut's Sacred Heart University, died after apparently choking during a pancake-eating contest, the Hartford Courant reports. Per the Connecticut Post, Nelson had eaten four or five pancakes during the March 30 event when she started shaking uncontrollably and collapsed. Police say she spit out some pieces of pancake but was still choking; officers were not able to successfully use the Heimlich maneuver but did physically remove food from Nelson's throat and performed CPR. Nelson was initially said to be in critical but stable condition and was transferred to a New York hospital Friday, but died Sunday.

Nelson, who was from New Jersey, also had multiple food allergies, but officials do not believe those contributed to her death. An autopsy report and official cause of death have not yet been released. All police will confirm is that she died from complications related to the event, which was put on by the campus's Greek Life department. "It’s a tragic event that started out as something fun," a police rep tells CBS New York. Nelson, reported as either 20 or 21 years old, was majoring in social work and often volunteered in support of trauma victims. A source tells the New York Daily News the contest was part of a charity event. "To die for a charity eating pancakes after the dad went down is terribly sad," the source says. (In a double tragedy for an Alabama family, a father and son were killed in a head-on crash with each other.)

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