A 41-year-old man, Dana Andrew Hutchings, died on Tuesday night, Aug. 13, after suddenly choking while participating in a food contest at a Fresno Grizzlies game in Fresno, California, according to the city’s sheriff’s office.
Hutchings was rushed to a local hospital, where he died, Tony Botti, the department’s spokesman, said.
He leaves behind two teenage children.
Fresno Grizzlies team President Derek Franks announced on Wednesday that World Taco Eating Championship will be canceled after the deadly incident, according to ABC 30.
The Taco Truck Throwdown will continue as scheduled, according to Paul Braverman, a spokesman for the Triple-A baseball team, the Fresno Bee reported.
Hutchings loved sports and was a “fun-loving guy.” He had spoken about the contest with his family just a few hours before he died.
“My brother Andrew was a fun-loving guy. He had a great sense of humor and liked to make people laugh. He was an avid supporter of Fresno State,” Mecca Hutchings told ABC 30.
“Who would think something like this would happen?” she added.
Hutchings left a strong impression with others at the baseball game, who remembered him for his enthusiasm.
“He said he was going to enter a taco-eating contest and has been not eating all day to make himself a winner [sic],” Eric Schmidt said.
Hutchings also mentioned that he was diabetic and had a couple beers, so Schmidt offered him some food, but Hutchings was saving himself for the competition, according to ABC 30.
Fan Matthew Boylan told the Fresno Bee that Hutchings was eating extremely fast during the contest.
“It was like he’d never eaten before. He was just shoving the tacos down his mouth without chewing,” Boylan said.
Schmidt saw him stop eating, try to chew a little more, then the big video screen went dark, and paramedics were working on Hutchings in a hurry, and found out later they couldn’t save him.
“He apparently began to choke, so Fresno Grizzlies medical staff rushed over, started to give him first aid and then turned him over to American Ambulance,” said Tony Botti with the Fresno County sheriff’s and coroner’s office.
Hutchings’s medical history and whether he was diabetic will be part of the county coroner’s investigation.
Though the autopsy determined his cause of death was choking, toxicology reports might take a month or more.
“The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings,” Fresno Grizzlies President Derek Franks, said in a statement.
A Facebook fundraiser was launched by Hutchings’s sister to cover for her brother’s funeral expenses.