South Dakota man chokes to death after July 4th hot dog eating contest

The Independence Day ritual proved deadly for 47-year-old Walter Eagle Tail of Custer.
By Evan Bleier   |   July 8, 2014 at 12:03 PM
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CUSTER, S.D., July 8 (UPI) -- A Fourth of July hot dog eating contest in South Dakota became the scene of a tragedy rather than an Independence Day celebration when a 47-year-old man lost his life.

Walter Eagle Tail of Custer began choking during the contest and died at a hospital after attempts to revive him at the scene were unsuccessful.

"There was someone doing CPR when we arrived," Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler told the Rapid City Journal. "Basically, he probably just suffocated. It got lodged in his throat and they couldn't get it out."

Eagle Tail was one of six contestants taking part in the competitive-eating event.

"It all happened within minutes," Wheeler said. "I think everybody was pretty well shocked about it."

A pie eating contest that was planned for the next day was canceled after Eagle Tail's death.

"We are at a loss for words," said Custer Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dave Ressler. "We are mourning for Walter and his family right now."

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