Wal-Mart worker dies after shoppers knock him down
NEW YORK – A worker was killed in the crush Friday after a throng of shoppers eager for post-Thanksgiving bargains burst through the doors at a suburban Wal-Mart, authorities said.
At least four other people were injured, and the store in Valley Stream on Long Island was closed.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, Ark., called the incident a "tragic situation" and said the employee came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store.
"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," co-worker Jimmy Overby, 43, told the Daily News. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too. ... I literally had to fight people off my back."
Nassau County police said the 34-year-old worker was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 6 a.m. The man's name was not released and the cause of death was not immediately known.
A police statement said shortly after the store's 5 a.m. opening time, shoppers "physically broke down the doors, knocking (the worker) to the ground."
A metal portion of the door was crumpled like an accordion.
Shoppers around the country lined up early outside stores in the annual bargain hunting ritual known as Black Friday. Many stores open early and stay open late, and some of the most dramatic bargains are available in limited quantities.
Among the bargains offered by Wal-Mart for Friday were Samsung 50-inch high definition Plasma TVs for less than $800.
Witnesses told the Daily News that before the store was closed, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the worker's life.
"They were working on him, but you could see he was dead," said Halcyon Alexander, 29. "People were still coming through."
A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital for observation, and she and the unborn baby were both reported to be OK, said Sgt. Anthony Repalone, a Nassau County police spokesman. Four or five other people suffered minor injuries, he said.
Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman at National Retail Federation, said the group knew of no other incident where a retail employee has died working on the day after Thanksgiving.
Wal-Mart is working closely with police, company spokesman Dan Fogleman said.
"The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority," Fogleman said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this difficult time."