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Woman Trampled in Shoppers' Sale Frenzy

November 30, 2003|From Associated Press

ORANGE CITY, Fla. — A mob of shoppers rushing for a sale on DVD players trampled the first woman in line and knocked her unconscious as they scrambled for the shelves at a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Patricia VanLester, who remained hospitalized Saturday, had her eye on a $29 DVD player, but when the siren blared at 6 a.m. Friday announcing the start to the post-Thanksgiving sale, the 41-year-old was knocked to the ground by the frenzy of shoppers behind her.

"She got pushed down, and they walked over her like a herd of elephants," said VanLester's sister, Linda Ellzey. "I told them, 'Stop stepping on my sister! She's on the ground!' "

Ellzey said some shoppers tried to help VanLester, and one employee helped Ellzey reach her sister, but most people just continued their rush.

Paramedics found VanLester unconscious on top of a DVD player, surrounded by shoppers seemingly oblivious to her, said Mark O'Keefe, a spokesman for EVAC Ambulance.

She was flown to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, where doctors said she would probably remain hospitalized through the weekend, Ellzey said.

Ellzey said Wal-Mart officials called to ask about her sister, and the store apologized and offered to put a DVD player on hold for her.

Wal-Mart Stores spokeswoman Karen Burk said she had never heard of a such a melee during a sale.

Meanwhile, at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Saturday it hit a single-day company sales record during the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving shopping sprees, taking in $1.52 billion nationally.

Last year, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, reported sales of $1.43 billion for the Friday after Thanksgiving.

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