The day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. is one of the biggest and busiest shopping days of the year, known in North America as Black Friday. Retail stores nationwide in the United States have some of the best bargains of the year, with prices slashed so low that it almost seems impossible. The term “Black Friday” came from the notion that the sales days keep both stores and shoppers “in the black”, or out of debt. Because the deals are so good, people can often be seen camping in front of stores the day before – skipping that Thanksgiving turkey in favour of nabbing a great deal.
But recently, the average American consumer is wondering; how far can we go with Black Friday? Stores are now opening their doors earlier and earlier to give them an advantage over the competition, meaning minimum wage workers don’t get to spend the holidays off and familial celebrations are sacrificed in the name of consumerism. But this isn’t the biggest gripe of the day; with a combination of sales and huge numbers of people, the day can be a recipe for real danger.
According to the somewhat bizarre website blackfridaydeathcount.com, a total of seven people have died and ninety have been injured so far in Black Friday incidents. From car accidents, to pushing and shoving, to shootings, and stabbings, there are multitudes of dangers when it comes to the busiest shopping day of the year. The following are 15 of the deadliest Black Friday incidents that have occurred over the last decade; let’s hope things don’t get quite so hectic this year.
14. Florida BrandSmart – 2005
Sometimes people just don’t have the patience to wait their turn. In 2005, before a Floridian branch of BrandSmart could open their doors on Black Friday, shoppers raided the store and ran through the small doors, flooding in within a matter of seconds.
The reason? They were angry that they had to wait. In a case of rabid consumer-driven mania, the shoppers knocked other people over, one of them a 73-year old woman. Luckily, the elderly woman survived to tell her tale. She noted that she was pushed down and that people were stepping on her head and the rest of her body, all while her daughter watched helplessly trying to save her mother.
13. Del Amo Fashion Center Stampede – 2006
In Torrence, California, the management at the Del Amo Fashion Center wanted to add extra promotion and pizazz to their Black Friday shopping. The idea was to cram thousands of people into the mall while dropping 500 balloons filled with prizes. Unfortunately, the event didn’t quite go to plan.
Perhaps predictably, the novelty resulted in numerous people snatching balloons from each other, crushing hands and feet as they tried to get their free prize, and ten people were injured in the event. Of course, if you drop free stuff from the ceiling onto thousands of deal-hungry people, it’s going to leave a mess to clean up both literally and, in this case, legally. Lesson learned.
12. Walmart Stampede – 2008
A Long Island Walmart made headlines in 2008 after Black Friday shoppers stampeded the store five minutes before it was to open. The shoppers chanted “Push the doors in!”, and those at the top of the line obliged, causing the doors to fall off their hinges. Floods of people pushed and poured into the store in seconds.
Walmart workers attempted to make a human chain to slow down the crowd, but to no avail. The shoppers trampled a 34-year old seasonal employee, Jdimytai Damour, killing him. As his fellow employees tried to help, they were pushed out of the way by the crowd. Even after police and paramedics showed up, the manic shoppers would not stop. The store never officially had their Black Friday opening.
11. Toys R Us Shooting – 2008
This next incident happened on the other side of the coast, but on the same day as the 2008 Walmart incident. In Toys R Us in Palm Desert, CA, two women got into a bloody fight after screaming and shouting at each other inside the store. The husband of one of the women brought his gun out, and the husband of the other woman brought out his in retaliation. The two men got into a shootout at the cash register, where they both shot each other to death. The saddest part? Both couples had their children with them, who watched their fathers die.
10. Walmart Shutdown – 2009
After Walmart experienced the tragedy of 2008, they wanted to avoid something so terrible again. The solution? To keep the store open all night. There were about 300 people inside the store when the Upland Walmart began their Black Friday deals at specific times. But that didn’t stop the rabid shoppers from tearing open merchandise that wasn’t supposed to be sold until 5:00 am, and begin fighting with each other.
The brawl got so bad that police were called at 2:44am and the store was shut down for three hours. All the products were emptied from shopping carts and put back – shoppers proceeded to throw temper tantrums, pounding on the glass door. Some even tried to sneak back into the store using emergency exits and side doors.
9. Pepper Spraying Incident – 2011
On Black Friday in the Los Angeles county area, a woman shopping at the Porter Ranch Walmart began pepper spraying other shoppers who were waiting for an X-Box. Was she trying to fight them off? No. She was trying to give herself the advantage. Over 20 people were injured in relation to the pepper spraying incident. The woman initially got away in the confusion, but she turned herself in 24 hours later, and was identified as Elizabeth Macias. She claimed that the reason she pepper sprayed the crowd was because her two teenage children were attacked.
8. Black Friday Worker Car Accident – 2011
As stores begin opening earlier and earlier, pinning longer shifts on their employees, it’s only a matter of time before it begins to affect the worker. And of course, working on a manic Black Friday is itself an exhausting experience. And so it was that in 2011, a 36-year old Target employee drove her car into a 20 ft. canal after losing control of her car due to exhaustion.
She wasn’t able to swim, but had time to call the police from her cell phone as her car sank into the water. The employee was eventually rescued and taken to the hospital for minor injuries.
7. Target Death – 2011
Sometimes a death can occur not because of trampling or fighting, but because someone has a medical condition that went unnoticed in the promotional panic. That’s exactly what happened to 61-year old Walter Vance, who was shopping at Target on Black Friday in 2011 when he collapsed onto the floor.
Witnesses to the incident said that shoppers didn’t notice him and even stepped over his body as they searched for bargain prices. Vance’s wife stated that six nurses who were in the store, however, stopped to help Vance until paramedics arrived. Vance, who suffered from a heart condition, was taken to the hospital where he later died.
6. Parking Space Shooting – 2012
This incident, which occurred around noon on Black Friday of 2012, saw the madness spill out of the shops and onto the streets when two shoppers were shot and wounded due to a fight over a parking space. A man and a woman were found wounded in front of a Walmart Tallahassee garden center, and they were both hospitalised.
The injuries were not life threatening and they were able to make a full recovery. The suspect was not immediately discovered nor arrested, but police were searching for a dark green Toyota Camry in the wake of the incidence.
5. Black Friday Car Accident – 2012
A father in San Bruno, California faced numerous charges after two of his daughters were killed and a California Highway Patrol officer was injured in a rollover car crash on Black Friday in 2012. The father, Arvind Tandel, fell asleep at the wheel – having gotten only three hours of sleep after participating in Black Friday shopping. His four daughters were crammed into a back seat that only fit 2 people, and seats were rearranged to make room for products – the two daughters who died weren’t wearing seatbelts. Tandel’s wife was also seriously injured, but survived.
4. Kohl’s Shooting – 2013
In 2013, police in Romeoville, Illinois were called in regards to three shoplifters at a local Kohl’s on Black Friday. When police arrived at the scene, the three shoplifters made a dash to the parking lot. One was caught by an officer as they tried to get into their vehicle – but the thief’s car began to move and the officer was dragged across the parking lot. One of the other officers began shooting at the car, wounding the driver.
The car eventually stopped and the three shoplifters were arrested, and the injured were taken to the hospital.
3. Fatal Car Crash – 2013
A 19-year old teen by the name of Patrick Henry Boyd died after taking his friends shopping on Black Friday 2013, in South Carolina. His four friends were also injured in the wreck, which occurred in front of a gas station grocery store. It turned out that the other four passengers had fallen asleep, and Boyd dozed off, thus causing the accident. The injuries among the four passengers ranged from minor to major injuries. Of course, it is known that shoppers don’t get a lot of sleep on Black Friday: This is a tough lesson in making sure one is safe and rested, no matter how great the deals are.
2. Mall Stabbing – 2013
During a Black Friday event at the Westfield Shopping Center in Carlsbad, California, a man was stabbed by 18-year old Javier Covarrubias outside the mall. The man was stabbed in the stomach and chest around 12:30am and was taken to the nearest hospital so that his life threatening injuries could be treated.
Covarrubias was immediately arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. It turned out Covarrubias did not act alone, and another teen, Daniel DeLeon was involved. Along with assault with a deadly weapon, the two teens were charged with gang involvement. Luckily, the victim survived and lived to tell the tale against his assailants.
1. The Trampling – 2013
An Ohio Walmart in New Boston had paramedics and police called out on Thanksgiving evening around 8:00 PM in 2013. According to the media, crowds had gotten out of control as stores were opening early for Black Friday, and several people were trampled.
One of the victims was an 11-year old girl who was immediately taken to the hospital to treat her injuries. At the same Walmart, an elderly woman was hospitalised for similar injuries. Public reaction to the incident generally conveyed outrage. When you’re out shopping for Black Friday, be sure to look down and reach out a helping hand to those vulnerable members of the crowd.