Sacred Heart Student Dies During Charity Pancake-Eating Contest

The Sacred Heart University community is in mourning after the untimely death of 20-year-old Caitlin Nelson.

Nelson was an active member of Kappa Delta sorority at the Connecticut school, which was why she participated in a Greek life-sponsored eating contest. After eating a couple pancakes, Nelson suddenly “fell to the floor and started shaking uncontrollably,” according to the Daily Mail. Two nursing students attempted to help her before police and paramedics quickly arrived to the scene.

Nelson was taken to a local hospital, where she was found to be in stable but critical condition. She was then transferred to New York-Presbyterian/ Columbia University Medical Center, where she passed away on Sunday.

Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara gave a statement to People, “Our officers were on the scene quickly. They recognized the gravity of the situation immediately and desperately and heroically tried to clear her airway. Tragically, the obstruction was not easily cleared and that lack of oxygen for that amount of time ultimately caused severe damage.”

What makes her death more tragic is that her father, James Nelson, was a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officer who was killed during a rescue mission in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Nelson was heavily involved at her university as a Kappa Delta sorority sister and vice president. She also volunteered to help trauma victims after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. She was studying social work.

Her memory was reflected in the school’s reaction to the tragedy.

Thousands came to a memorial in her honor at the university on Sunday evening, which was followed by mass and an impromptu candlelight vigil.

Rest in peace, Caitlin.