Madelyn “Madie” Nicpon, 20, was at a charity fundraiser when she fell unconscious. Authorities said she was participating in a hot dog eating–contest at the time and choked.
Tufts described the Saturday incident as taking place at a “private, rental property” in the town of Somerville, Louisiana.
First responders performed “extensive life-saving procedures” on Nicpon as she was taken to Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge before being transferred to Massachusetts General in Boston, where she died, the Journal News reported.
A Tufts University statement noted that thousands of people, including students, faculty and staff, gathered Sunday night for a candlelight vigil in memory of Nicpon.
“The number of community members who turned out to lend support to each other, to Madie’s friends, and to her family was a testament to how many lives Madie touched during her time at Tufts,” President Anthony P. Monaco wrote. “We will work with Madie’s family to find a time to join together as a community to celebrate Madie’s life.”
Nicpon, a native of Suffern, New York, graduated from Suffern High School in 2019 and was co-president of its National Honor Society. She was a Scholar-Athlete, and her grade-point average exceeded 4.0.
Nicpon played on the Tufts lacrosse team as a defender, and she studied biopsychology with a plan to enter the medical field after graduation. Her teammates nicknamed her “Scooter.”
“Scooter was a true friend and teammate,” her team wrote on Instagram. “She truly valued her relationships with her teammates and coaches. Her reach was far beyond our team — she was a true connector on campus and touched every single person she met.”
A similar incident occurred just a few years ago in Connecticut: Sacred Heart University student Caitlin Nelson choked to death at a charity pancake-eating contest in March 2017. Nelson’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university since the event was allegedly on-campus and school sanctioned, the CT Post reported.
In Nelson’s case, the university argued that her “injuries and damages were caused in whole or in part” by Nelson’s own “carelessness and negligence.”
Services for Nicpon will be held in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, on Friday and Saturday, according to The New York Post.