Coroner: Choking caused taco-eating contest death

FRESNO, Calif. -- A Central California coroner says a man choked to death while participating in a taco-eating contest at a minor league baseball game.

The Fresno County sheriff-coroner's office released the cause of death for 41-year-old Dana Hutchings after an autopsy Thursday. He died after Tuesday night's contest at the Fresno Grizzlies game. The Grizzlies are the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

Witness Matthew Boylan told the Fresno Bee 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.

Fresno sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti says emergency room staff at a local hospital tried to clear food from Hutchings' airway.

Tuesday night's competition came ahead of Saturday's World Taco Eating Championship that was to be held at Fresno's annual Taco Truck Throwdown.

The team on Wednesday announced that it was canceling that taco-eating contest, though an event featuring food trucks and musical entertainment would go ahead as planned.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.