Dad-of-two chokes to death after taking part in a taco eating competition

David Harding
Dana Hutchings

A contestant in an amateur taco-eating competition in California has choked to death.

Dana Hutchings, a father of two teenage children, died on Tuesday after taking part in the food contest at a minor league baseball game between the Fresno Grizzlies and the Memphis Redbirds.

"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 of the coroner's office.

The tragedy took place during a taco eating competition (Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer)

Despite furious attempts to save him, Mr Hutchings died just 30 minutes later.

Witness Matthew Boylan told the Fresno Bee newspaper that he noticed Hutchings was eating much more quickly than the two other contestants and did not appear to be chewing his food.

He said Hutchings collapsed and hit his face on a table about seven minutes into the contest, then fell to the ground.

The eating contest ended immediately.

A subsequent autopsy said the 41-year-old died after choking.

Toxicology reports have also been undertaken, but the results of those may not be for a month.


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His sister Mecca Hutchings told American media that Dana was “a fun-loving guy”.

"He had a great sense of humour and liked to make people laugh."

As a result of the tragedy, the Grizzlies announced the cancellation of the upcoming World Taco Eating Championship.

That event, which was first held in 2017 includes 30 taco trucks and entertainment.

The incident took place during a minor baseball league game (Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"We are devastated to learn that the fan that received medical attention following an event at Tuesday evening's game has passed away," Grizzlies team president Derek Franks said in a statement.

"The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings. The safety and security of our fans is our highest priority.

“We will work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested."

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