This is tough.
Food challenges have resulted in tragedy over the past week when two separate eating competitions led to the choking deaths of ill-fated participants.
A sorority girl at Sacred Heart University died on Sunday after choking on a pancake during a Greek life event on campus.
Caitlin Nelson, a junior studying social work at the Connecticut college, had eaten four or five pancakes on Friday when she started shaking uncontrollably and collapsed.
Police say the 20-year-old spit out some pieces of pancake, but was unresponsive and not breathing when they arrived on the scene. Officers were not successfully able to use the Heimlich maneuver.
The Kappa Delta sorority sister, whose father, James Nelson, was a Port Authority police officer who died on 9/11, was transferred to a New York hospital on Friday in critical but stable condition. She passed away Sunday.
But competitive eating had another victim to claim on Sunday — a 42-year-old Colorado man who choked to death devouring a giant donut.
According to reports, Travis Malouff was participating in an eating challenge at Voodoo Doughnut when he began choking. Two witnesses reportedly tried to help, but didn’t know how to perform the Heimlich.
Paramedics received the call around 1:30 a.m., shortly before he died in the shop’s lobby from “asphyxia, due to obstruction of the airway,” according to the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner.
Malouff was taking part in the shop’s “Tex-Ass Challenge,” which involves eating a massive donut 7-inches in diameter — about the size of six regular donuts — in less than 80 seconds.
A witness told KUSA that the challenge is “too much food for one person” and that the victim “was trying to force it down” to win the prize, supposedly a button and a free meal.
Both deaths are being regarded as extraordinarily tragic; particularly Nelson’s, as the fatal pancake eating contest was part of a school charity event. Our hearts go out to the victims’ families.