FAIRFIELD, CT – Caitlin Nelson, 20, of Clark died several days after choking during a pancake-eating contest held Thursday night on the campus of Sacred Heart University, according to authorities.
Witnesses at a Greek Life dinner saw Nelson eat four or five pancakes before falling to the floor, 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," he said. Nelson was taken to St. Vincent’s Medical Center, where she died on Sunday, Kalamaras said.
Nelson is the daughter of Roseanne Nelson and the late James Nelson of Clark. James Nelson was a Port Authority police officer, and only Clark resident, who died in the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
Caitlin Nelson, who was just five 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.
“It’s about positive change,” Caitlin Nelson said. “It’s about healing and helping. It’s about paying it forward.”
Nelson was a 2014 graduate of the Arthur L. Johnson High School.