The 10 Black Friday Deaths That Have Occurred Throughout The Years
There have been 10 Black Friday deaths and injuries since 2008. The day after Thanksgiving has proven to be more fatal than festive in recent years.
Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping events of the year. On the day after Thanksgiving, shoppers looking for major bargains line up at shopping malls nationwide and wait patiently until the stores open for their chance to buy new electronics and products for a fraction of the price. It’s shocking, though, how often this ends in a tally of Black Friday deaths.
The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was on Sept. 24, 1869, and it had nothing to do with shopping. The first “Black Friday” was dubbed as such due to the crash of the U.S. gold market.
Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, two Wall Street financiers, had bought as much of the nation’s gold as they could in hopes that they could drive the price for gold high and sell it back for an incredible profit. Their plot fell through and sent the stock market to plummet and bankrupt practically everyone in the country.
The first use of the term Black Friday as Americans of today now know it is widely debated. A story that’s commonly told is that the day after Thanksgiving marks the day that stores start turning a profit for the year. In accounting, losses are recorded in red and profits are recorded in black. Therefore, “Black Friday” signals when stores switch recording their earnings from red to black as they begin to turn large profits.
Another more grim myth regarding Black Friday’s origin suggests that in the 1800s, Southern plantation owners were able to buy slaves at a discount the day after Thanksgiving. This theory, however, has no historical evidence to back it up.
The most concrete story that reveals the origin of Black Friday actually begins in 1950s Philadelphia. Police in the city used the term “Black Friday” to describe the chaos that ensued in Philly the day after Thanksgiving.
Philadelphia played host to the highly coveted Army-Navy football game, which took place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving every year. Everyone attending the game flocked to Philly the Friday before and police were forced to work overtime for crowd control purposes. It also meant that businesses in the city got a major boost in sales.
In the early 1960s the term had caught on locally, and stores wanted to change it from “Black Friday” to “Big Friday” so that the term used would have a more positive connotation. But “Black Friday” was what stuck and their effort proved unsuccessful.
Sometime in the 1980s retailers took the concept of “Black Friday” and turned it around to attract more people into their stores for door-busting, one-day sales. Doors opened earlier, even as soon as Thursday night. Shoppers have gone so far as to camp outside of stores to be the first ones inside.
Black Friday has evolved into an event that people covet so much that disasters have ensued from these one-day sales.
The increase in crowds as the years went made Black Friday progressively more unsafe. Shoppers have been trampled and injured after eager storms of crowds flooded into the stores seconds after the doors opened. People have gotten into fights over products, and in some instances, people have actually died.
There’s a website devoted to keeping a tally of Black Friday deaths. The Black Friday death count has so far reached 10, with 111 recorded injuries.
Six of those Black Friday deaths are confirmed to be directly related to Black Friday shopping, and the others have either been as a result of Black Friday shopping or happened coincidentally during Black Friday events.
Here’s a closer look at each of these Black Friday deaths.
2008: A Wal-Mart Employee Is Trampled To Death
The first of the recorded Black Friday deaths occurred in 2008 on Long Island. An employee at a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream was trampled to death after eager shoppers stormed the store in the wee hours of the morning the day after Thanksgiving.
Police were called at around 3:30 p.m. after Jdimytai Damour, 34, suffered from fatal injuries due to a crowd of more than 2,000 people who rushed the door and stomped all over him in the process. Others who suffered from injuries were taken to nearby hospitals to be treated, but Damour was the only person who sadly lost their life.
An eyewitness of the terrifying scene said that despite the announcements of an employee killed due to the crowds, people continued to push their way into the store.
Damour was a temporary employee hired specifically for the holiday shopping season. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t know that his choice to work at the Wal-Mart for the 2008 holidays would be the last job he’d ever have.
2008: Black Friday Deaths In SoCal Toys “R” Us Shooting
The second in Black Friday deaths occurred the same year.
After two women got into an altercation at a Toys “R” Us 120 miles east of Los Angeles, the men who had reportedly accompanied them engaged in a shootout that ended in them shooting each other dead. At the time there was speculation that the shooting might have been gang-related, but the fact that it happened at all shocked shoppers and the community.
“I was scared,” said shopper Joan Barrick. “I didn’t want to die today. I really didn’t want to die today, and I think that’s what we were all thinking.”
Alejandro Moreno, 39, and Juan Meza, 28, lost their lives due to the altercation, but nobody else in the store was hurt as a result of the shooting. Black Friday deaths totaled three too many by the end of that year.
2011: Shopper Trampled In West Virginia Target
Walter Vance, 61, attended the sale at a Target in West Virginia and was trampled at around 12 a.m. on the morning after Thanksgiving. After he collapsed inside the store, shoppers uncaringly walked over and on him.
Witnesses said that Vance was neglected as shoppers plowed into the store. It wasn’t until an emergency room nurse noticed Vance on the floor that he received medical attention. The nurse was helped by an off-duty paramedic until an ambulance was able to arrive on the scene.
Vance had reportedly suffered from heart problems for a number of years before his untimely death, but friends were extremely upset at the circumstances that lead to his death.
“Where is the good Samaritan side of people?” Vance’s co-worker Sue Compton told local news. “How could you not notice someone was in trouble? I just don’t understand if people didn’t help what their reason was, other than greed because of a sale.”
Vance’s death by greed and preoccupied passersby brings the Black Friday deaths up to four.
2013: A Sleep-deprived Father Kills His Daughters In A Car Accident
A sleep-deprived father crashed his car while driving back from Black Friday shopping. He had gotten only a couple of hours of sleep the night before — perhaps in anticipation of the frenzied shopping— and nodded off at the wheel.
That crash tragically resulted in the deaths of his two daughters who were in the car with him.
Nisha Tandel, 24, and her sister Sheetal, 20, were shopping for gifts for the elder sister’s wedding, which was in just a few short months. The crash occurred on Highway 101 in Palo Alto, California.
The father, Arvind Tandel, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and pleaded not guilty. Both daughters who died were not wearing seatbelts when the crash occurred. He reportedly only had three hours of sleep and suffered non-life threatening injuries.
His daughters were not so lucky, but a police officer responding the scene said that “It is absolutely miraculous that there weren’t more deaths.”
In the case of Black Friday deaths, this crash wasn’t so much a result of the shopping as it was just the nature of the day, but it still brings the casualty count up to five.
2013: North Carolina Teen Dies At The Wheel
In the same manner as the aforementioned car crash, a teenager in North Carolina also, unfortunately, lost his life behind the wheel on Black Friday.
Patrick Henry Boyd, 19, of Clover, South Carolina was killed after apparently falling asleep at the wheel while returning home from Black Friday shopping.
At the time of the crash, there were four other passengers in the car, and all of them were reportedly asleep at the time of the single-vehicle accident.
The other four passengers were taken to a nearby hospital and two of them suffered serious injuries. One of the passengers had reportedly said that he remembered Boyd mention that he was tired prior to the crash.
It would be the sixth time that an instance of Black Friday deaths reared its ugly head.
2016: A Shopper Opens Fire In Reno Wal-Mart Parking Lot Over A Spot
A man in Reno, Nevada reportedly pulled a gun during a fight over a parking spot at a Wal-Mart. The victim was gunned down at 6:05 p.m.
The shooter was licensed to carry a weapon, per police reports, and was released after his arrest. Authorities confirmed that the incident was road-rage related.
“It looks as if it was some sort of road rage incident, we don’t have any other information that it was linked to any shopping activities or anything like that at this point,” said Lt. Scott Shaw of the Reno Police Department.
Although police said that they weren’t sure if the altercation was directly linked to the Black Friday shopping event that was going on at the Wal-Mart, it’s pretty clear that both parties were there to participate in the sale.
Police say that both the victim and the suspect were armed at the time. “Law enforcement responded to the scene, and we’ll support them with their investigation as needed,” said a Wal-Mart spokesperson.
The fatal shooting marked the seventh in Black Friday deaths.
2016: Shooting Outside A New Jersey Mall Kills One
A shooting outside a New Jersey mall saw the death of one person in the wee hours of Black Friday. The shooting took place outside a Macy’s department store. Police arrived at the scene around 3:30 a.m. before the store had even opened its doors. The mall had reportedly closed at midnight on Thanksgiving day and was set to reopen at 6 a.m.
It’s unclear if the shoppers were at the parking lot because of the Black Friday sale or if the shooting was unrelated and had coincidentally happened on the same day. Regardless, the incident has been included in the count Black Friday deaths.
“It’s sad,” said one shopper at the scene, “We’ve been doing this, me and my girls, for probably about 10 years now, just for the fun of going out — a girls’ night and trying to get some special sales and it’s getting scary now.”
2016: San Antonio Man Shot In Yet Another Wal-Mart Parking Lot
2016 saw a second Black Friday-related shooting.
Isidro Zarate, 39, attempted to stop a man from assaulting a woman in a Wal-Mart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas when the alleged assailant pulled a gun out on Zarate. The assailant had reportedly pulled his female companion by her hair through the lot when Zarate intervened.
Zarate and his wife, Lisa Benavides, decided to go Black Friday shopping and arrived at the parking lot around 4 p.m. Benavides went into the store for about half an hour, but when she came out she saw her husband in a body bag.
“A man was grabbing a woman by her hair, so Isidro drove up, rolled down his window and yelled, ‘Take your hands off of her!’” said Benavides. “Isidro was trying to help, but the man just walked up and shot my husband in the neck.”
And with that shooting, the Black Friday death count closes out at 10.