FAIRFIELD, CT – Caitlin Nelson, 20, of Clark has died several days after choking during a pancake-eating contest held Thursday night on the campus of Sacred Heart University.
Witnesses at a Greek Life dinner saw Nelson eat four or five pancakes before falling to the floor, shaking uncontrollably, according to a story in the Fairfield Citizen.
Fairfield police said Nelson spit out some pieces of food, but was choking. Officers who responded to the scene were unsuccessful in clearing her airway, Lt. Bob Kalamaras of the Fairfield Police Department said.
Although Nelson had several food allergies, Kalamaras said it was determined they were not a contributing factor.
"It was a tragic accident," Kalamaras said. Nelson died on Sunday, according to Kalamaras.
The college student was the daughter of Roseanne and the late James Nelson, who was a Port Authority police officer, and only Clark resident to die in the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center.
Caitlin Nelson, who was 5 years old when her father died, attended the Clark Township annual 9/11 memorial service. She was active with “America’s Camp,” a retreat for children who lost a parent in the attacks. This past September, Caitlin spoke of working with survivors of the Sandy Hook School shooting. She was a 2014 graduate of Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark.
“It’s about positive change,” Caitlin Nelson said. “It’s about healing and helping. It’s about paying it forward.”