MIAMI – A Florida man choked to death after downing dozens of live roaches to win a contest earlier this year in which the grand prize was a python, according to an autopsy released Monday.
Edward Archbold, 32, of West Palm Beach died as a result of "asphyxia due to choking and aspiration of gastric contents," according to the report released by the Broward County medical examiner's office. It said his airway was obstructed by the roach body parts, which made him unable to breathe.
"There is a flap called the epiglottis that is supposed to stop objects from going into the lungs," medical examiner Craig T. Mallak wrote in an email to the AP. "Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. In the video you could see him trying to swallow and breathe at the same time. We can't do both simultaneously."
Lab tests for drugs came back negative. The death has been ruled an accident.
"It's hard to even think about it," said Kim Crawford, co-owner of Busch Canvas & Interiors where Archbold worked for four years. "It does bring a little closure because not knowing always puts that question mark out there."
Crawford described Archbold as a "smart, good guy" who was "really good friends to people. She said a photo of Archbold and news clippings of the accident still hang in the main office.
"It's just a tragedy."
Archbold died after downing the bugs as well as worms in the Oct. 6 contest at Ben Siegel Reptile Store in Deerfield Beach, about 40 miles north of Miami.
Messages left with the store's owner and his attorney were not immediately returned.
Archbold became ill shortly after winning the contest and collapsed in front of the store. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
About 30 people ate the insects, but authorities said none of the other contestants became ill.