Caitlin Nelson, who was participating in Sacred Heart University's Greek Week celebration on March 30, 2017, reportedly began to shake uncontrollably and fell to the floor after eating multiple pancakes in a short period of time.
Nelson, of Clark, N.J., was rushed to St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, and later transferred to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York, where she died.
The grieving family of a 20-year-old woman who choked to death during a pancake-eating contest filed a lawsuit against the CT university she was attending in hopes of raising "awareness of the preventable dangers associated with amateur eating competitions".
According to the lawsuit, Fairfield police officers who tried to save Nelson found her mouth "was compacted with pancakes, nearly to her teeth" and that pancake paste in her mouth was "like concrete".
They were not able to clear away the pancakes to restore Nelson's ability to breathe.
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An autopsy determined Nelson died of asphyxia due to obstruction of her airway by a lump of food.
Bridgeport law firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder brought the lawsuit on behalf of Nelson's mother, Rosanne Nelson. The lawsuit seeks an undisclosed amount of money and accuses the school of approving the contest despite the dangers and failing to provide adequate medical personnel.
A spokesperson for Sacred Heart declined to comment because of the litigation.
Ms Nelson's family hope to raise awareness over the potential dangers of amateur eating contests.
"These contests are significantly more unsafe than people realise and it's critically important for the public - especially educational institutions, to understand that certain foods are safer than others and a modicum of forethought can literally save lives".