April 4, 2017 / 5:28 AM / 2 years ago

Denver choking death reported linked to doughnut-eating contest

DENVER (Reuters) - A 42-year-old Denver man choked to death while taking part in an eating contest that requires participants to consume a half-pound doughnut in less than two minutes, authorities and media said on Monday.

Travis Malouff died on Sunday “from asphyxia, due to obstruction of the airway,” at the Voodoo Doughnut shop, the office of the Denver medical examiner said in a statement.

Paramedics went to the east Denver location shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday in response to reports of a man choking, a fire department spokesman said. But Malouff was pronounced dead at the scene, the medical examiner said.

Authorities would not confirm that Malouff died during an eating contest, but Denver television station KUSA quoted an unnamed eyewitness who said the man was taking part in the doughnut chain’s “Tex-Ass” doughnut challenge.

Participants must eat a half-pound glazed doughnut, roughly equivalent to six conventional-sized samples of the doughy confections, in 80 seconds, the company says on its website.

The company’s “hearts go out” to the dead man’s family, Sara Heise, a spokeswoman for the Portland, Oregon-based chain, said in an email statement.

“While this matter is under investigation, we believe it would be inappropriate to comment further,” she added.

Voodoo Doughnuts offers quirky, specialty pastries, such as a “Maple Blazer Blunt,” a rolled-up pastry treat with red sprinkles on one end making it appear like a smoldering marijuana cigarette, according to its website.

The company has shops in California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, and one in Taiwan.

Malouff’s death was the second such report over the weekend, after a 21-year-old student at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, died on Sunday, the Hartford Courant newspaper reported.

Caitlin Nelson died at a New York City hospital three days after she choked during a campus pancake-eating challenge, the newspaper said, adding that her father, James Nelson, was a Port Authority police officer who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Editing by Steve Gorman and Clarence Fernandez

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