There are many ways to get hurt, but one of the most dangerous is the stampede. Caused by people pushing the people in front of them. It can lead to serious crush injuries. In December of 1991, at a City College gymnasium in New York, New York, a benefit basketball game was being held to benefit AIDS education. In a zealous attempt to bring in as much money as possible, the facility was jammed with as many as 2,000 people over capacity. To make matters worse, a group of gate-crashers tried to push their way into the already overcrowded gymnasium. Thus sparked a stampede that crushed hundreds of ticketholders at the bottom of a basement staircase. Most of the injuries happened near the door to an underground gym that was packed with thousands of spectators.
The problem with this type of situation is the the people in front get pressed tightly between a wall, and the people behind them. Chief medical examiner, Charles Hirsch said, “the eight people killed all were asphyxiated…squeezed front to back…in the stairwell.” The victims included three women and five men and ranged in age from 16 to 28…Sonia Williams 20, Leonard Nelson 17, Dirk Swain 20, Charise Noel, Jubal Rainey 15, Yul Dargan 24, and Darren Brown 29, were among the dead. Videotape shot from the bleachers revealed a seriously overcrowded gymnasium…at least 2,000 people more than its legal capacity of 2,730 and that tickets were still being sold at the door. “It was oversold,” said Mayor David Dinkins.
The stampede pushed most of the victims down the stairs, squeezed them through a doorway and onto the gym floor. They tripped and fell over others waiting there, only to be crushed themselves by the next human wave. “It was a cone effect,” said ambulance worker Sy Collins. “The door opens and there were bodies on the floor and people were just running over them.” Bodies piled up as many as six high. The 29 people who sustained crushing injuries included five Emergency Medical Service staffers, some of whom were mauled as the crowd fought over their services.
According to authorities and witnesses, by late afternoon thousands of people had lined up outside the City College gym in upper Manhattan for what was billed as the “Heavy D and Puff Daddy Celebrity Charity Basketball Game” to benefit AIDS education. The teams were to be captained by Heavy D and Puff Daddy, both rap stars. A recorded telephone message told callers that all of the $12 advance tickets had been sold, but that tickets could be bought at the door for $20. Chief of Patrol Mario Salvaggi said the school’s security director called the police before the game and asked for help because the event was sold out. Police who arrived at 5:00 p.m. found a crowd of between 500 and 700 were milling around outside on Convent Avenue. The game was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m., and the doors opened at 5:00 p.m. Ticketholders passed through a glass door at street level, walked down a 12 foot wide staircase, and passed through a single metal door into the gym. By 7:00 p.m., the game still had not started, and people out on the street began pushing to get inside. A locked glass door was smashed, and people rushed into the gym building. Randy Jones, 30, of the Bronx who was standing inside the door to the gym, said that a woman collecting money at the door got up, took a can holding the night’s receipts, ran into the gym and closed the metal doors behind her, leaving the crowd up in the stairwell. Eventually event organizers began letting people from the stairwell into the gym, but only a few at a time, Jones said. Finally people from the stairs began streaming into the gym, colliding with scores standing inside the door. Soon the floor was covered with injured people.