A 42-year-old Colorado man attempting to complete a doughnut-eating challenge died Sunday after choking on a giant pastry. Witnesses said Travis Malouff, of Denver, was participating in Voodoo Doughnut’s 80-second half-pound doughnut challenge before his death, KUSA-TV reported.
“It’s tragic,” Curtis Malouff, Travis’ father, told KUSA-TV. “It’s a loss of life that shouldn’t be.”
Witnesses told the news outlet that at people in the shop at the time tried to help Malouff when they realized he was choking, but nobody knew how to properly perform the Heimlich maneuver.
“They tried so hard to do everything,” an unidentified witness told KUSA-TV. “It was clear that nobody was trained and they were just reacting. You [have to] do something, I think.”
Paramedics arrived but were unable to revive Malouff, who died from asphyxia due to obstruction of the airway, the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner announced on Monday.
Malouff’s death occurred on the same day that a 20-year-old student in Connecticut died after participating in a pancake-eating contest. Caitlin Nelson, of Clark, New Jersey, had been eating four or five pancakes during a March 30 challenge before collapsing to the floor. She was rushed to a nearby hospital before being transferred to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, where she later died.
“It’s a tragic event that started out as something fun,” Fairfield police Lt. Bob Kalamaras said of Nelson’s death. “It was just a tragic accident.
Voodoo Doughnuts said in a statement that the company is saddened by Malouff’s death and is cooperating with investigators, KUSA-TV reported.
“It’s too much food for one person, even as the size that he was,” Julia Edelstein, a witness, told the news outlet. “That’s too much for someone to eat. He was trying to force it down.”
Curtis Malouff said his son will be remembered for his smile and laugh, and his willingness to try anything.
“If a challenge is there — he’d probably take it,” he said, according to KUSA-TV.