Thousands show up for computer sale
RICHMOND, Va. - People trampled, beaten with a folding chair. A woman urinating on herself. The police called, then themselves calling for backup. All to get a bargain.
The stampede erupted Tuesday when a crowd estimated at 5,500 showed up at the Richmond International Raceway to purchase 1,000 used Apple iBook laptop computers. The Henrico County school system was selling 1,000 of the 4-year-old computers to county residents for $50. New iBooks cost between $999 and $1,299.
"I could not move, I could not breathe," said Latoya Jones, 19, who lost one of her flip-flops in the ordeal and later limped around on the sizzling blacktop with one foot bare. "This is total, total chaos."
Officials opened the gates at 7 a.m., but some already had been waiting since 1:30 a.m. When the gates opened, it became a terrifying mob scene. People threw themselves forward, screaming and pushing each other. Witnesses said an elderly man was thrown to the pavement, and someone in a car tried to drive his way through the crowd.
Blandine Alexander, 33, said one woman standing in front of her was so desperate to retain her place in line that she wet herself.
Seventeen people suffered minor injuries, with four requiring hospital treatment, Henrico County Battalion Chief Steve Wood said. There were no arrests, and the iBooks sold out by 1 p.m.
Publication date: 08-17-2005