11/28/2008 at 06:30 PM EST
In a hurry to take advantage of holiday discounts at a Long Island, N.Y., Wal-Mart, hundreds of shoppers busted through the store's front door, trampling a maintenance worker to death.
The 34-year-old man, whose name has not been released, tried to contain the growing crowd when the store opened for its annual Black Friday sale at 5 a.m. But shoppers surged into the store, knocking the man down and stepping on him.
"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," co-worker Jimmy Overby, 43, told the New York 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."
Emergency crews were called to save the man's life, but shoppers continued to rush past the scene until police shut down the Valley Stream store. The man was then taken to nearby Franklin Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m.
Wal-Mart called the death "a tragic situation," in a statement released Friday. "The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority."
But Nassau County Det. Lt. Michael Fleming told the New York Times that the store could have worked harder to prevent this situation.
"I've heard other people call this an accident, but it's not," he tells the Times. "This certainly was foreseeable."