Family of man who died after taco-eating contest at Fresno Grizzlies game left shocked

Dana Hutchings, 41, appeared to choke during the contest.

August 16, 2019, 12:42 AM

The family of the man who choked and died after competing in a taco-eating contest at a baseball game was left shocked that a night out at the ballpark turned into tragedy.

"Who would think something like this would happen?" Mecca Hutchings, the sister of Dana Hutchings, told ABC Fresno affiliate KSFN-TV Wednesday.

"He told us he was going to a taco eating contest, but we didn't think something like this would happen," she added.

Dora Hutchings, Dana Hutchings' mother, told ABC News Thursday she was on her way to the coroner’s office to identify the body of her son, but did not want to speak more about him.

Hutchings, 44, died Tuesday night after participating in the food contest at a Fresno Grizzlies game in Fresno, California, according to the city’s sheriff’s office. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he died, Tony Botti, the department’s spokesman, said.

The Fresno County Coroner said an autopsy conducted Thursday revealed that Hutchings had died of choking.

PHOTO: Dana Hutchings is seen here.
Dana Hutchings is seen here.

Botti said the full results will be completed in about a month, and include toxicology results and medical history.

Derek Franks, the Fresno Grizzlies president, called Hutchings a fan and said he was devastated to learn of his passing.

"The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings," Franks said in a statement.

Fatal accidents during food contests, like Hutchings', have happened before.

In November 2018, Mario Melo, a 56-year-old former boxer, choked to death during a croissant eating contest in Argentina.

A year before that, Caitlin Nelson, a 20-year-old student at Sacred Heart University, died after competing in a pancake-eating contest on campus for charity. Responding officers said they found a mass of pancake paste "like concrete" in Nelson’s airways, according to The Associated Press.

Walter Eagle Tail, 47, died after choking to death during a hot dog eating contest in South Dakota during a 2014 Independence Day event.

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