Last year, 20-year-old Sacred Heart University student Caitlin Nelson died from choking in a charity pancake-eating contest on campus. Now, her family is suing the school for her alleged wrongful death and are seeking $15k in damages.
The student’s mother, Rosanne Nelson, filed the lawsuit against Sacred Heart University in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut over her daughter’s death and alleges that the University was at fault for allowing the pancake-eating contest to happen, claiming that the university “failed to investigate the safety of a pancake eating contest before granting approval” and did not have “adequate and appropriate medical personnel” who could respond to a choking at the contest, according to the documents obtained by #People.
Nelson also says the university could have considered alternative foods like ice cream or whipped cream for the contest which, unlike pancakes, wouldn’t turn into a “thick glob of paste” when they come into contact with saliva. The Catholic university is “unable to comment on ongoing litigation,” at this time.
During the incident last March, Caitlin was found at the school Greek festivities “not breathing” with “pancakes almost to her teeth” and the “glob of pancake past in her airway.” She suffered from severe brain damage due to oxygen deprivation and died days later in the hospital. Her cause of death was ruled death by asphyxiation.
Caitlin Nelson was vice president of her Kappa Delta sorority’s community service group and led the organization’s philanthropy, planned Girl Scout events and worked closely with Cinque at the Newtown Resiliency Center where she volunteered to mentor children impacted by the tragic events of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings. Her father, James Nelson, was a Port Authority officer killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center as he helped evacuate people from the 27th floor of one of the Twin Towers when it collapsed.
Notes from the lawsuit state, “These contests are significantly more dangerous than people realize 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.”