A man dies in an eating contest in Custer, South Dakota, turning the Fourth of July weekend festivity into a tragedy. According to The Rapid City Journal, Walter Eagle Tail, 47, choked to death while participating in an annual hot dog eating contest. Paramedics were called to the scene, but it was too late. It is unclear whether or not Tail was responsive when he was put into the ambulance. He was pronounced dead at Custer Regional Hospital.
Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said:
"There was someone doing CPR when we arrived. Basically, he probably just suffocated. It got lodged in his throat and they couldn't get it out. It all happened within minutes. I think everybody was pretty well shocked about it."
The man who died in during the eating contest was well-liked by residents in the area. He had a lot of friends and was described as a "fun-loving, kind and caring man."
His pal Ardis McRae said:
"Walter was just being Walter, having fun when he entered this contest. He was just having a good time. You could just see him smile and laugh. He was just an outgoing person. People, they would just smile at the things he was up to. He was just a character."
The man who died in the hot dog eating contest has caused organizers to rethink their event. It's possible that they will not hold a hot dog eating contest during next year's Custer Chamber of Commerce sponsored Fourth of July festivities.
While rare, people dying during eating contests have been reported in the past. In 2013 a man choked to death in Romania during a sausage-eating contest and in 2012 a Florida man choked to death while participating in a cockroach eating contest.