One witness, Della Firth, wrote on Facebook that the victim had been eating a lamington prior to her death and said it was a “very sad day.”
Firth said: “This lady shoveled the lamington into her mouth with no restraint…. the pub was very quick to respond with CPR and the ambulance rocked up soon.”
The woman went on to say via her social media profile that medical officials attempted to save the woman for more than half an hour but “it didn’t look good.”
A second female witness who reportedly attended the event told The Courier-Mail newspaper she had been recording the competition when she noticed the victim was “dribbling” and called the emergency services.
“I was filming and just as my friend finished I noticed she was dribbling so I rang 000 as she fell to the ground,” the unnamed witness told The Courier-Mail.
“They put a sheet around her and worked on her for at least another half an hour. They shocked her a few times and were still doing CPR as they took her out 30 to 40 minutes later.”
A third witness, Michelle Iffland, said the woman was in good spirits just before the incident. “I’m so sad right now. One minute she was happy the next she was gone,” Iffland said.
Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) has been contacted for comment.
A QAS spokesperson told local media the victim had suffered a seizure while eating the cake, causing her to choke and stop breathing. The woman could not be revived at the hospital.
The Beach House Hotel’s Australia Day event was advertised on Facebook with a poster indicating the lamington eating competition was linked to a bakery called Top of the Bay.
It was hosting a thong-throwing competition in the afternoon and had prizes for the best-dressed attendees.
The Queensland hotel has been contacted for comment.
According to its official website, Australia Day is an annual period of festivities in celebration of the country’s diversity and democracy while providing time for citizens to reflect on history.
“[It] is an important date in Australia’s history and has changed over time: Starting as a celebration for emancipated convicts and evolving into what is now a celebration of Australia that reflects the nation’s diverse people,” it says.
More than 13 million people are said to take part every year.