The Telegraph
Monday , January 28 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Boy chokes on gum & dies

Gangtok, Jan. 27: An 18-year-old boy died in East Sikkim yesterday after a 14km run when the chewing gum in his mouth got stuck in his windpipe.

Pemba Sherpa, a resident of Bardang in East Sikkim, fell unconscious as soon as he reached the finishing line after completing the 14km run, police said.

The boy, who was training as a monk, had quit his monastery life recently to help his family by working as a construction labourer in Sikkim. It emerged later that Pemba had not told his family that he would participate in the run.

“He had not told us that he would be participating in the race. He left home early and later we got the news of his death. He was a monk at Enchey monastery (in Gangtok) and had quit two years ago to financially support us,” said father Tshering Sherpa, who is a carpenter. Pemba was the fourth among eight siblings.

The run was organised by the Singtam-based JVC Singtam Football Club as part of an anti-drug campaign on the occasion of Republic Day on Saturday.

The winner got Rs 3,000 cash.

Dr. D.P. Sharma, the chief medical officer of Singtam Hospital, which is 25km from Gangtok, said during the post-mortem it was found that the chewing gum had got stuck in Pemba’s windpipe, causing his death.

“The reason for the boy’s death was choking which was caused by the chewing gum getting stuck in his windpipe. This led to asphyxia (lack of oxygen),” the doctor said.

When Pemba fainted at the finishing line, the organisers first tried to revive him, then took him to Singtam Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The 94 participants had to run from Singtam Bazaar to Ralap, and back covering a distance of 14km. The race started at 9.45am on Saturday.

“The entry was open till Saturday morning and he (Pemba) had enrolled in the senior category on that day. There was no entry fee,” said the president of the club Sangay Bhutia.

“This is the first time that the club had organised a run. The competition was in two categories: senior and junior. No advisory was given to the runners. They were given glucose and water after the run was over,” Bhutia said.

The senior category had participants who were above 14 years. According to the organisers, Pemba was the 24th to finish.

In a similar incident in Calcutta on January 15, an 11-year-old boy died after choking on chicken nuggets he had brought for tiffin to school.