USA TODAY - A 20-year-old college student died at a New York City hospital Sunday days after choking during a pancake-eating contest at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, according to authorities.
Caitlin Nelson of Clark, N.J., was competing in a pancake-eating contest when she started choking, AP reported. Two nursing students were at the competition and began lifesaving measures on Nelson until police and paramedics took over, Fairfield police Lt. Bob Kalamaras told AP.
"It's a tragic event that started out as something fun," Kalamaras said."It was just a tragic accident."
Nelson was in critical but stable condition following the incident, and was transferred to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center on Friday where she later died, AP reported.
Sacred Heart University students and faculty held a vigil for Nelson, who was a junior majoring in social work, on Sunday night.
University president John J. Petillo said in a blog post that Nelson's death was a "tremendous loss" to the community.
"Many of you did not know Caitlin, but you consider her family anyway," Petillo said in a blog post. "Here at Sacred Heart University, when one of us is hurt, we all hurt; when one of us excels, we all celebrate. Whether you knew Caitlin or not, you came together to express your love for her, your love for each other and your love for SHU."
Nelson's father, James Nelson, 40, was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks in Manhattan. He was a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officer who died while trying to rescue people trapped in the World Trade Center, AP reported.
Caitlin was 5 years old when her father died.
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