Who was Dana Hutchings? Family of California dad who died in taco eating contest sues Fresno Grizzlies owner

Family alleges that Hutchings was not made aware of the risks of the contest in 2019 during a Grizzlies game

                            Who was Dana Hutchings? Family of California dad who died in taco eating contest sues Fresno Grizzlies owner
Dana Hutchings died during a taco-eating contest held by Fresno Grizzlies (Dana Hutchings via Facebook)

The family of Dana Hutchings sued the owner of Fresno Grizzlies after he died in a taco-eating contest. Hutchings participated in the contest during a Grizzlies game on August 13, 2019. The 41-year-old father chocked while eating the tacos, and fell face down on the table. He was taken to the hospital but declared dead an hour later.

The amateur competition at Chukchanski Park in Fresno, California, did not warn Hutchings of the dangers of the contest, the suit alleges. It was filed by his son, 18-year-old Marshall Hutchings. Professional eating contests often involve athletes who are trained, but amateur competitions do not. The eight-page wrongful death lawsuit was filed on Monday, April 5, 2021. Marshall is seeking an undisclosed monetary compensation for his father's death. Here's everything we know about Dana and his family. 


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Dana Hutchings (Facebook)

Who was Dana Hutchings?

At the time of his death, Dana Andrew Hutchings was 41 years old and lived in Fresno, California. He has two children, Marshall and a daughter whose name is not available. Not much is known about Hutchings. His Facebook profile doesn't list a workplace or any other basic information. It is unclear if he was married. On Facebook his status is listed as 'in a relationship', and there are two photos of a woman with him. Hutchings is also survived by his sister Mecca and mother Dora. On his death, Mecca started a fundraiser on Facebook that unfortunately never met its goal. 

Photos from Mecca's Facebook profile indicate that Marshall is living with her, but we cannot verify that information. It is unclear what happened to Hutching's other child and the woman he was in a relationship with. 

It is believed that Hutchings had diabetes. He reportedly did not eat the whole day, just so he could win the contest, although he did drink a few beers. One witness, Matthew Boylan, told the Fresno Bee, "It was like he’d never eaten before. He was just shoving the tacos down his mouth without chewing." The contest occurred during the minor league baseball game, was being broadcast on the screen at the stadium. As Hutchings fell, the screens went dark.

Paramedics then rushed to him and tried to dislodge the food, but were unsuccessful. He was taken to Community Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The Fresno County Coroner’s Office confirmed that the cause of death was choking, which is what Marshall is suing the team for. The lawsuit names Fresno Sports and Events LLC, the owner of the Grizzlies, as defendants. 

Dana Hutchings' sister Mecca  and his mother (Mecca Hutchings via Facebook)

What the lawsuit states

The family is being represented by attorney Martin Taleisnik of the Sawl Law Group. According to the lawsuit, "Fresno Sports and Event, LLC, failed to fully inform decedent, Dana Hutchings, of every risk he was accepting when he agreed to enter the amateur taco-eating competition. His assumption of risk was distorted, and therefore, he was unable to assume the risks he was taking when he agreed to enter the competition.”

Derek Franks, president of Fresno Sports and Events, declined to comment on the lawsuit despite requests from multiple publications. At the time of his death, Franks issued a condolence statement but did not offer any compensation to the family. However, the company did cancel Major League Eating’s World Taco Eating Championship contest as part of its annual 'Taco Truck Throwdown'. 

The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno, and is scheduled to be heard in August, according to ABC 30

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