Coroner determines Fresno Grizzlies taco-eating contestant choked to death



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A California man died from a taco eating competition during a Fresno Grizzlies baseball game. Veuer’s Justin Kircher has the story. Buzz60, Buzz60

An autopsy determined that a contestant who died during an amateur taco-eating contest this week at a minor-league baseball game had choked to death, the Fresno County sheriff’s and coroner’s office said.

Dana Hutchings, 41, died Tuesday night during the Class AAA Fresno Grizzlies’ game against the Memphis Redbirds, leaving behind two teenage children.

“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.

Paramedics tried to clear food out of Hutchings’ airway, but he died less than 30 minutes later, Botti said. 

Toxicology reports might take a month or more.

“My brother Andrew was a fun-loving guy,” Mecca Hutchings told ABC30 in Fresno. “He had a great sense of humor and liked to make people laugh.”

The Grizzlies announced the cancellation of the upcoming World Taco Eating Championship in the wake of the death.

That competitive event, which was first held at Chukchansi Park in 2017, was scheduled to be part of The Taco Truck Throwdown, an event that includes 30 taco trucks and entertainment, according to the team.

“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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