A student whose father was killed in the September 11 attacks has died after choking in a pancake-eating contest.

Police said 20-year-old Caitlin Nelson died at a New York City hospital on Sunday (2 April), three days after participating in the contest at Sacred Heart University.

Originally from New Jersey, she was studying social work at the Roman Catholic school in Fairfield.

Lieutenant Bob Kalamaras said: "It's a tragic event that started out as something fun."

When she started chocking, two nearby nursing students immediately began life-saving measures before being joined by paramedics and police.

She was taken to a hospital in Bridgeport in critical but stable condition and transferred on Friday to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

Nelson's father, James Nelson, was a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officer killed in the September 11 attacks in Manhattan.

Caitlin Nelson
Caitlin and her father. Facebook

The 40-year-old was killed while trying to rescue people trapped in the World Trade Center.

"The SHU community is mourning today," the school said in a statement. "We ask that during this time you give Caitlin's family and the members of the SHU community privacy while they grieve."

Several thousand people gathered on the Sacred Heart campus to remember Nelson – who was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority.

A Mass dedicated to her was followed by a candlelight vigil.