One of the responding officers who tended to a choking student during a pancake-eating contest on a Connecticut college campus is describing how he pulled pieces of food out of her mouth in a desperate bid to save her life.
Caitlin Nelson was taking part in the competition for her sorority during Greek Week festivities Thursday at her college, Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, when the freak accident occurred.
She had quickly eaten at least four pancakes before she began choking.
Fellow students rushed to call 911 and administer CPR. Some attempted to give her the Heimlich maneuver.
"She showed no signs of life — she was unconscious completely," Fairfield Police Sgt. Mike Paris told Inside Edition. "We are doing CPR; we are trying to clear the airway. Her mouth was compacted with pancakes, almost to her teeth. I was pulling, with my bare hands, the pancakes out of her mouth."
Nelson was rushed to a local hospital and later transferred to Columbia University Medical Center, where she died Sunday.
An autopsy is pending. Cops said she had multiple food allergies and had been choking during the contest.
"Not chewing your food thoroughly puts big chunks down the throat," CPR expert Troy Allen told Inside Edition. "Big chunks run the risk of getting lodged in what is a narrow passageway."
Nelson was just 5 when her father, Port Authority Police Officer James Nelson, died while saving lives on the 27th floor of the South Tower on 9/11. In December 2012, she appeared at the annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony in New York City, where she read names of some of the victims, including her father.
The street Caitlin lived on with her widowed mom and sister has been renamed in her dad's honor.
The 21-year-old was studying social work as a major. In December 2012, she aided the survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., which is not far from Sacred Heart.
The family and friends of the New Jersey native are now left in mourning. Flags at Sacred Heart have been lowered to half-mast.