Central Jersey grad dies after choking in pancake-eating contest
FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Students at Sacred Heart University are remembering a 20-year-old New Jersey student who died after participating in a pancake-eating contest.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Caitlin Nelson and the entire Sacred Heart University community tonight," the Bridgeport diocese tweeted on Sunday. According to her LinkedIn page, she is from Clark and vice president of Community Service for Kappa Delta's Eta Nu chapter.
Fairfield, Connecticut police spokesman Lt. Robert Kalamareas said police were called to SHU's University Commons on Thursday when Nelson began to choke after eating four or five pancakes during a contest her sorority was participating in. Several nursing students tried to help before officers arrived two minutes later.
Officers had to take food out of her mouth after unsuccessfully trying the Heimlich maneuver, according to Kalamareas.
Nelson had food allergies, which were not a factor in her death, according to Kalamareas.
Kalamareas said Nelson was taken to St. Vincent Medical Center in Bridgeport and later taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, where she died on Sunday night.
Clark School Superintendent Edward Grande told New Jersey 101.5 that the school was "heartbroken" at word of Nelson's death and said counseling would be available to those who seek it as she was a recent graduate of Arthur Johnson.
Her father, James Nelson, was a Port Authority police officer who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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