NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A shopping trip took a terrifying turn in the Bronx Monday, when shelving units fell like dominoes at a discount store in the Bronx and falling merchandise buried shoppers.
Eight people were injured in the accident, which happened around 3:45 p.m. at the Discount Outlet store at 940 Morris Ave. in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. A pile of shelving and merchandise was left spilling out of the front windows of the store.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, fire and police crews flocked to the scene, but were held up by traffic jams as the Yankees home opener let out. The scene of the accident is about a quarter-mile from Yankee Stadium.
Meanwhile, the inside of the discount store was left looking like the aftermath of an earthquake, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported. People who were present when it happened said it was just as scary.
“The lady was screaming in excruciating pain. You could see hands from the back because they were buried under all the mess,” said witness Lucy Torado. “The children were screaming horribly. It was horrible.”
A mountain of retail and kitchen grooming products fell on six people inside the store – three adults and three children. A seventh was trapped in the rear.
All were taken to Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in serious condition.
An eighth suffered minor injuries after trying to come to the rescue of the others, and was taken to the same hospital.
Shoppers who escaped and took video with their cellphones called the accident a domino effect – with one eight-foot shelf buckling and then falling onto the next in a chain reaction.
Fire Chief Anthony Montera said more than 100 firefighters helped remove people from the mountains of merchandise. Upon firefighters’ arrival, the scene looked like a building collapse.
“We had a shelving collapse in the store in the center aisle,” Montera said. “It created a cascading effect. It took down two or three more aisles, and we had the customers in the store – some of them hurt by the debris coming down on them. We removed it. We got seven people out of the debris, all in the early stages.”
Witnesses also told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith they thought they were experiencing an earthquake.
“I just saw that the shelf is falling,” said Filsan Imaan, a cashier at the store. “Very scary. I’m still shaking.”
Antonio LaGuerre said it all happened so fast. Before long, people were screaming for help.
“All the shelves started just falling like a domino effect, and it fell on top of them,” he said.
“I started picking stuff out and throwing it off the people. … That’s what I did. I tried to help, but I’m only one person. I’m not Superman,” he continued.
Witness Angela Mateo told Young, “When I looked to my left, the first line fell, then the one, then the other.”
“I hear the noise — bum, bum, bum, bum, bum,” said Kwame Boayke, another witness.
City and federal inspectors combed through the store trying to pinpoint the cause, confirming what many customers already suspected.
“We’ve been telling those guys for a long time that the aisles are too close and they’re overstocked,” said neighbor Teddy Washington.
The Department of Buildings said late Monday that the shelves indeed collapsed under the stress of the merchandise on them.
The department issued a full vacate order and a violation was issued for failure to maintain.
No structural damage was found, the department said.
There was no word late Monday on when the store was expected to reopen.
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