DEERFIELD BEACH (CBS4) – Exotic cuisines sometimes leave diners feeling sick to their stomach, but what one man consumed in Deerfield Beach last Friday night may have contributed to his death.
Edward Archbold, 32, died after participating in a roach eating contest at Ben Siegel Reptile Store.
He was competing for the first prize of a Python.
“I just though if I could win a $450 snake just from eating bugs I should give it a try,” said another contestant Pharoah Gayle.
Dozens of people took part in the contest.
“We were supposed to eat as many bugs as we can in a certain amount of time and whoever ate most got the snake,” said Gayle.
Witnesses said Archbold really went at it.
“He was literally taking roaches by the handful and just going like this (stuff them into his mouth),” said Olivia Murphy. “He wanted the snake bad. He was like throwing them in his mouth, like doing everything he could to beat them.”
Shortly after Archbold won the contest, he said he wasn’t feeling well and started vomiting uncontrollably.
“I just saw bugs all over his face, stuff like drooling down his face, and I was kind of throwing up a little bit myself just from like seeing that,” said Murphy.
Archbold collapsed in front of the store. He was taken to Broward Health North were he was pronounced dead.
Store owner Ben Siegel said he’d only met Archbold that day.
“We just met Eddie the night of our sale, he was a very nice guy, everyone here liked him and we are just very sad about what happened,” said Siegel. “Condolences to his family. We are just very upset about the entire incident. It’s a sad tragedy.”
Siegel’s attorney said all participants in the contest signed a waiver in which the acknowledged what they were doing and accepted responsibility for their participation “In this unique and unorthodox contest.” They added that the bugs used in the contest were “taken from an inventory of insects that are safely and domestically raised in a controlled environment as food for reptiles.”
His body was taken to the Broward County Coroners Office for an autopsy to determine the cause of death, but one South Florida bug expert offered his own opinion about what might have happened.
“They have a lot of very muscular, spiny legs. So if you were to eat one whole and live, it would squirm in your throat and esophagus causing a lot of irritation,” said University of Florida Entomologist Rudolf Scheffrahn.
Scheffrahn said it is also possible Archbold had an allergic reaction to the protein in the cockroaches, but he doesn’t think it’s likely.
“Roaches eat all kinds of things and are full of bacteria and nasty things, but nothing that would cause an immediate death. It’s more likely he vomited and choked and died from a lack of oxygen,” said Scheffrahn.
None of the other participants complained of illness.