All across the country the scene was the same, people lined up in the darkness of the early morning with credit cards and cash in pockets waiting for the doors to open on Black Friday and begin the holiday shopping season. It was a pretty typical scenario in shopping malls and stores Friday, except where it turned deadly in Long Island, New York.
A temporary Wal-Mart employee was attempting to unlock the doors at 5:00 a.m. this morning in Long Island, and he was trampled to death as hundreds of people stampeded into the store all trying to be the first to get to the shopping bargains. Video of the incident showed about a dozen people slammed to the floor by the pushing and rushing crowd desperate to get to the advertised bargains first.
It was anxious minutes that passed until other workers were able to work through the frantic crowd and get to the fatally hurt man where they tried to clear some space around him and attempt to help him. Even when the police arrived and were trying to give some first aid they were jostled and pushed by the shoppers going by them. An ambulance arrived and he was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased.
According to Nassau County police Detective Lt. Michael Fleming the Wal-Mart worker, whom authorities did not identify, was 34 and lived in Queens. “This was utter chaos as these men tried to open the door this morning,” Fleming said
By 9 p.m. on Thursday night the crown had already begun to form outside the Wal-Mart and many spent the night outside on the cold to be first in line to get to the bargains posted for Black Friday. By the early morning hour of 5 a.m. when the store was scheduled to open there were as many as 2,000 shoppers that flooded forward and they broke the doors off the hinges in the process. There were some other minor injuries reported in the incident.
Wal-Mart spokesman Kelly Cheeseman issued a statement saying, “We are saddened to report that a gentleman who was working for a temporary agency on our behalf died at the store and a few other customers were injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this difficult time.”
The company is investigating the incident, the statement said.
Nassau County police Detective Lt. Michael Fleming went on to state, “I think it is incumbent upon the commercial establishments to recognize that this has the potential to occur at any store. Today, it happened to be Wal-Mart. It could have been any other store where hundreds and hundreds of people gather.”
And Detective Lt. Fleming is right. It could happen anywhere and there do need to be more controls in place. Additionally the people that were there had a responsibility to each other and to the worker to be courteous and realize that it is not worth someone’s life to get to the bargains in the electronics section of a store.