Store Attendant Trampled To Death In Black Friday Sale

Lounge By ahuvas Updated 3 Dec 2008 , 4:04pm by cmp24

ahuvas Posted 29 Nov 2008 , 6:15am
post #1 of 14

Seriously - people are animals.

From the NY Times.

November 29, 2008
Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death

The throng of Wal-Mart shoppers had been building all night, filling sidewalks and stretching across a vast parking lot at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y. At 3:30 a.m., the Nassau County police had to be called in for crowd control, and an officer with a bullhorn pleaded for order.

Tension grew as the 5 a.m. opening neared. Someone taped up a crude poster: Blitz Line Starts Here.

By 4:55, with no police officers in sight, the crowd of more than 2,000 had become a rabble, and could be held back no longer. Fists banged and shoulders pressed on the sliding-glass double doors, which bowed in with the weight of the assault. Six to 10 workers inside tried to push back, but it was hopeless.

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said.

Some workers who saw what was happening fought their way through the surge to get to Mr. Damour, but he had been fatally injured, the police said. Emergency workers tried to revive Mr. Damour, a temporary worker hired for the holiday season, at the scene, but he was pronounced dead an hour later at Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream.

Four other people, including a 28-year-old woman who was described as eight months pregnant, were treated at the hospital for minor injuries.

Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, who is in charge of the investigation for the Nassau police, said the store lacked adequate security. He called the scene utter chaos and said the crowd was out of control. As for those who had run over the victim, criminal charges were possible, the lieutenant said. Ive heard other people call this an accident, but it is not, he said. Certainly it was a foreseeable act.

But even with videos from the stores surveillance cameras and the accounts of witnesses, Lieutenant Fleming and other officials acknowledged that it would be difficult to identify those responsible, let alone to prove culpability.

Some shoppers who had seen the stampede said they were shocked. One of them, Kimberly Cribbs of Queens, said the crowd had acted like savages. Shoppers behaved badly even as the store was being cleared, she recalled.

When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, Ive been on line since yesterday morning, Ms. Cribbs told The Associated Press. They kept shopping.

Wal-Mart security officials and the police cleared the store, swept up the shattered glass and locked the doors until 1 p.m., when it reopened to a steady stream of calmer shoppers who passed through the missing doors and battered door jambs, apparently unaware that anything had happened.

Ugly shopping scenes, a few involving injuries, have become commonplace during the bargain-hunting ritual known as Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. The nations largest retail group, the National Retail Federation, said it had never heard of a worker being killed on Black Friday.

Wal-Mart declined to provide details of the stampede, but said in a statement that it had tried to prepare by adding staff members. Still, it was unclear how many security workers it had at the Valley Stream store for the opening on Friday. The Green Acres Mall provides its own security to supplement the staffs of some large stores, but it did not appear that Wal-Mart was one of them.

A Wal-Mart spokesman, Dan Folgleman, called it a tragic situation, and said the victim had been hired from a temporary staffing agency and assigned to maintenance work. Wal-Mart, in a statement issued at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., said: The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this tragic time.

Wal-Mart has successfully resisted unionization of its employees. New York States largest grocery union, Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, called the death of Mr. Damour avoidable and demanded investigations.

Where were the safety barriers? said Bruce Both, the union president. Where was security? How did store management not see dangerous numbers of customers barreling down on the store in such an unsafe manner? This is not just tragic; it rises to a level of blatant irresponsibility by Wal-Mart.

While other Wal-Mart stores dot the suburbs around the city, the outlet at Valley Stream, less than two miles from New York Citys southeastern border, draws customers from Queens, Brooklyn and the densely populated suburbs of Nassau County. And it was not the only store in the Green Acres Mall that attracted large crowds.

Witnesses said the crowd outside Wal-Mart began gathering at 9 p.m. on Thursday. The night was not bitterly cold, and the early mood was relaxed. By the early morning hours, the throngs had grown, and officers of the Fifth Precinct of the Nassau County Police Department, who patrol Valley Stream, were out in force, checking on crowds at the mall.

Mr. Damour, who lived in Queens, went into the store sometime during the night to stock shelves and perform maintenance work.

On Friday night, Mr. Damours father, Ogera Charles, 67, said his son had spent Thursday evening having Thanksgiving dinner at a half sisters house in Queens before going directly to work. Mr. Charles said his son, known as Jimmy, was raised in Queens by his mother and worked at various stores in the area after graduating from high school.

Mr. Charles said he had not seen his son in three months, and heard about his death about 7 a.m. Friday, when a friend of Mr. Damours called him at home. He arrived at Franklin Hospital Medical Center an hour later to identify the body. Mr. Charles said he was angry that no one from Wal-Mart had contacted him or had explained how his son had died. Maria Damour, Mr. Damours mother, was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but was on her way back to the United States, Mr. Charles said.

About the time that Mr. Damour was killed, a shopper at a Wal-Mart in Farmingdale, 15 miles east of Valley Stream, said she was trampled by a crowd of overeager customers, the Suffolk County police reported. The woman sustained a cut on her leg, but finished her shopping before filing the police report, an officer said.

Anahad OConnor contributed reporting.

13 replies
michellenj Posted 29 Nov 2008 , 2:30pm
post #2 of 14

I read about this yesterday. How could people be so heartless?

I wonder what was on sale so cheap that everyone was so worked up?

indydebi Posted 29 Nov 2008 , 2:46pm
post #3 of 14

I just shake my head in amazement when I read this stuff. Daughters and I have been doing Black Fridays for only about 4 years but we have only encountered the nicest, most polite people. No shoving, yelling, line-cutting, cut-throating ... none of this stuff. And being in the 15th largest city in the country, you'd kinda expect to hear some of these type of stories. Geesh, the worse thing we hear is how long the check out lines are, but even then it's only conversation about how long they are .... nothing anyone is going to die over.

I'm also curious as to what was so cheap that it was worth someone's life. And to the person who was responsible for this man's death ... was that item REALLY worth it?

By the way, kudos to my Target store, who sent employees outside to pass out store maps to all of those in line and to let everyone know there were carts, not only in the front of the store, but also near jewelry and in another area, so there was no need to panic if the carts were gone when we got inside ... there were plenty more throughout the store.

stephaniescakenj Posted 29 Nov 2008 , 3:40pm
post #4 of 14

yea seriously. They could be giving away stuff and it's still not worth a stampede. you have to wonder what these people were thinking as they were pushing on a glass door... Did it even occur to them that it could break and cut them. I'm sure no one could ever imagine a fatality but I shake my head in amazement at the people that aren't able to foresee consequence. I was at circuit city a couple of years ago for Black Friday and as we were waiting in line to get in, they had store clerks walking around handing out ticket stubs for their big item just to be sure there was no chaos once the doors opened. It also ensured each customer only bought one of whatever it was so there was enough for everyone since you couldn't purchase the item without the ticket stub. Funny thing is, I don't even remember what it was, probably a game console. I don't have the patience for black friday anymore.

VannaD Posted 29 Nov 2008 , 5:30pm
post #5 of 14

I saw this on the news last night and all I could think was "how ridiculous". I also saw where there was a shoot out in a toys r us in California, its so sad. DO the people that harm others while acting like animals even care, probably not. Debi our Target did the same thing, with maps, and employees on walkie talkies, they try to make it as peaceful as possible

lisad1 Posted 29 Nov 2008 , 9:07pm
post #6 of 14

It is tragic, I've seen that mob mentality on so many occassions. I've done the black friday, the day after christmas, and those days when they were getting in a new "power ranger" supply in. You wait on line for hours. The people near you are nice and friendly, but once the doors open, it's the people behind you, you have to worry about. Used to drive me crazy, that i would spend hours in the cold on line at the christmas store the day after christmas, and then they let every person in line into the store, you couldn't even walk. I stopped doing it every year. Best buys does it right, they limit how many people are allowed in at a time.

And Michellenj and indydebi wondered what could have been so on sale for this to happen...and it is not necessarily how cheap something is, but more about the quantity they have in stock. People are desperate to get their kids what they want, like the Wii for example. The store will have it advertised in their flyer on special, but they only get 10 in their shipment. Which is why there is a stampede. I think these game companies share some of the blame in it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to take the blame away from the crowd, because they should be ashamed and haunted, for what they did. But are these companies really not able to keep up with the demand, or are they keeping them limited so they cost more. I find it hard to believe they can't make enough of these game systems so everyone who wanted one, could get one.

Carolynlovescake Posted 29 Nov 2008 , 9:42pm
post #7 of 14

Let's remember something....

I can almost bet you a majority of those "first in" had not choice but to move forward because the surge was to great from behing them.

When you have a crowd greater than 1,000 and they are all pushing forward and you are in the first few rows you are not in control like you think.

I've been in a few concert situations where there's a crowd surge to go forward and you have two choices when in the front, move forward or be trampled to death. It's a fight for life instinct and I can't blame those people in the immediate front 100% because if they would have stood there not moving they too would have been killed.

I was in my Wal*Mart this am around 10am and it was eerily quiet. They all had on a black ribbon. above their tag. Everyone tried to talk to them about it and they all stated "we would rather not discuss it today" and changed the subject to anything but the incident.

I was there and went through my regular cashier's line (I love her to death) and she had a lot to say discreetly (no one behind me) and we agreed that being in the front must have been horrifying knowing there were almost 2,000 shoppers trying to get in and they didn't care about life or limb to do it.

It's beyond a tragedy and I feel for that community, and that young man's family.

sugarwishes Posted 30 Nov 2008 , 10:14am
post #8 of 14

I live on long island (about 20 mins from where this walmart is) and I was so shocked!!! I couldn't believe how heartless these people were and then I heard people outside were complaining that they had to shut there doors because of this. I mean are you kidding?!?! How important is it to really buy a few things, yes I understand you're getting a deal, every year people get crazier and crazier. This is the reason I refuse to go to any stores on black friday. People can be so nasty and greedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Deb_ Posted 1 Dec 2008 , 8:09pm
post #9 of 14

It's such a tragic incident one almost too unbelievable to comprehend. I 100% blame these retail giants that use these "big ticket" sales to lure the consumer into their stores. These sales tactic should be banned.

When our kids were small we were in a similar situation at Disney World after the firework display was over. There were thousands of people all heading for the exit which of course is just one way out, Main St. If my DH hadn't pulled me forcefully by the arm to "hideout" behind a building, I would have been trampled. I had my son in a carriage and people were just pushing with all their strength against me and I fell onto the carriage. I was inches from the ground and I know that my son and I would have been seriously injured.

Since this happened I avoid crowds at all costs because people only have one thought on their mind and that's pushing forward and walking over whatever gets in their way.

My prayers are with the family of this poor man, it's so sad.

cmp24 Posted 2 Dec 2008 , 6:01am
post #10 of 14

Working for Wal-Mart for 5 yrs I can tell you first had, I always tried my hardest to get out of working Black Friday. I usually succeeded. Not to go shopping, but to avoid all the crowd and people screaming at you because you ran out of a sale item.

Each store only gets a certain about of items. I worked in a Hometown store ( store that closes at 9 ) and a Super Center. In both stores if there were laptops on sale there were only like 10 of them. In the Super Centers that are open all night we would have people standing there next to the products waiting for us to unwrap the pallet at 5 AM.

Associated getting hurt on Black Friday happens every year at Wal-Mart. Most getting shoved when they unwrap the pallet of merchandise and fall down to be hit in the head by shopping carts, broke fingers because people step on them.

Unless you are bleeding perfusely or have a broke bone, you are expected to tuff it out and work. Incident/accident reports are only filed on Customers that day unless you need major medical assistance. Management just does not have the time.

Working for them for so long I've learned that Wal-Mart is only out for Wal-Mart. I got injured on the job a few years back, and it messed up my back, it took me 6 mo for Mgt to listen to me to send me to a Dr. The Dr put me on light duty, so Mgt put me in electronics where I had to lift TVs. I was told it was either that or I would be fired because the new tv's didn't weight that much. My lifting limit was 10 lbs. I had to take it, to keep my job, and when I was caught lifting a TV, I was written up. It was there way of getting rid of me in another way so they wouldn't have to pay anymore Dr bills on my because it almost resulted in surgery.

If there was a closer store to me I wouldn't shop there as much as I do, but where I live, it's the closest store we have.

Deb_ Posted 2 Dec 2008 , 1:57pm
post #11 of 14

Wow cmp24 that's awful. I hope your back is better now. My FIL after retiring realized that he was too bored at home so he got a job at Wal-mart as a greeter to get out of the house.

He was in Textile management his whole career so he thought it would be a nice laid back job where he didn't have any responsibilities. Well, 6 yrs later, he's in charge of inventory control at the store, working 45 hrs plus a week and completely dedicated to this $12 an hr. job. He's 71 yrs old, not old by today's standards, but this is definitely not what he was expecting to be doing at this age.

We hear horror stories from him about this store (they live in PA, he works in Harrisburg). My MIL is livid and wants him to quit, but he feels sorry for his employees. He thinks he can turn this store around.

I avoid Wal-Mart completely, if we all boycott, they will go under. They are one of the worst companies to work for, if not the worst. They don't give a damn about their employees or their customers. They've broken countless labor laws and they pay the fines and continue to break them.

I wouldn't care if they were giving laptops away, I wouldn't go there.

mixinvixen Posted 2 Dec 2008 , 2:18pm
post #12 of 14

walmart is one of my husband's accounts for food service products, and trust me...if you only could see what they try to get away with!

for example: we had family coming in for the holidays, some arriving on wednesday and some on thursday morning (thanksgiving). wednesday morning, my husband receives an email from walmart headquarters, saying they need this quote for product, and MUST have it by friday. this is something that takes alot of conversations with my husbands bosses and art department and such, no one was in the office to talk to him since they were all gone for the both wednesday and thursday, my husband is downstairs, holed up in his office trying to get this quote done!! i was furious!!!!!!!!!

they are also notorious for calling on friday at 5:30 wanting samples put together and sent to delivery stops at 6! not to mention that they have a warehouse across the street from the headquarters FULL OF THOSE SAME CUPS...THEY'RE JUST TOO LAZY TO GET THEM!

when we go on vacation, my husband changes his voicemail to reflect that, tells them when he'll be back in office, and instructs callers to call so and so if they have any questions that can not wait. never fails...we'll be cruising down the interstate and his cell phone will ring at least 10 times with questions from walmart!! SO THE MAJORITY OF THE TRIP, MY DAUGHTER AND I HAVE TO RIDE IN SILENCE WHILE HE'S SITTING OVER THERE ON THE PHONE, ANSWERING SOME RIDICULOUS EXCUSE OF A QUESTION, THAT THE FREAKING JANITOR COULD HAVE ANSWERED!!

he even had to put out a walmart "fire" while we were celebrating our 1st anniversary in HAWAII!!!!!!!!

I HATE WALMART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

michellenj Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 2:28am
post #13 of 14

Don't get me started on my dh and his cell phone and clients.

Back to the Walmart security guy, I read today that they got his autopsy back and it was asphyxia that killed him (as we suspected) but this guy was BIG. He was 6'5" and 270#. So many people must have stepped on him to kill him.

I really haven't heard anyone in the media question why Walmart would allow 2,000 people to gather outside their store. Don't you have to have some sort of a permit to have a gathering that large?

cmp24 Posted 3 Dec 2008 , 4:04pm
post #14 of 14

When it comes to gathering out side in large groups like that unless it is a planned group then no you don't need a permit. Wal-Mart will say they didn't plan for that many people to show gather out side there store and wait for the opening, and get away with it.

They are a multi-billion dollar company..........get proper security for these events.

When I worked for wal-mart I was expected to run electronics ( which was my main dept. ), do contracts on cell phones, run fishing licenses, work in automotive, and cover hard ware at times. They short staffed the whole store. Right now is the time of year they need everyone they can get and the closer to Christmas it gets the more people they will need. But wal-mart looks at it in a different way. This is the time of year where they start cutting hours, so it makes the company more money. Last year they were looking for volunteers to cut back hours before they started going around telling people they needed to go home.

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