Traumatic Asphyxial Deaths Due to an Uncontrolled Crowd

James R. Gill, MD, and Kristen Landi, MD

Abstract

Nine people died of traumatic asphyxia due to an uncontrolled crowd at a community basketball game in New York City in 1991. We reviewed the circumstances, postmortem findings, and the
causes of death. The majority of people had petechiae of the conjunctivae and face consistent with chest compression. There were minimal superficial blunt injuries and no fractures or acute intoxications. These deaths are often incorrectly attributed to blunt force injuries, while the
cause typically is asphyxia due to chest compression.

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