Dec. 10, 2010 — -- Teens are putting a dangerous twist on the once innocent game of cops and robbers, using social media and their cars to chase down the bad guy.
The game is called "Fugitive" and last week it took a scary turn in Sammamish, Washington when a 16-year-old female driver and her friend were hospitalized after crashing their car into a tree and fence while reportedly chasing fellow players.
The father of the Washington teen who crashed into the fence told ABC affiliate KOMO that he had never even heard of the game before his daughter was injured.
"This is kind of a new thing...people think that it's harmless, that it's just kids running around. It's just kids being kids until someone gets harmed," said Chief Nate Ellidge of the Sammamish Police Department.
Using Facebook, texting and other forms of social media to organize, teens meet up and split themselves into teams. One team is the cops and the other is the fugitives. By foot, the fugitives race to an established safe point while the other team tries to chase them in their cars. Those in cars, hop in and out of the moving vehicles to tag the fugitives.
Teens have been able to keep the game underground and away from parents by organizing through text messaging and Facebook. A search on Facebook brings up groups devoted to organizing the game. YouTube shows teens playing the dangerous game.
James Bowsher and Chris DeMarco, both 19, have played in or organized dozens of Fugitive matches.
"It's at night, there's a 150 people, energy drinks, adrenaline, testosterone, everything's flying around. It's, it's a blast," DeMarco said.
Few adults realize what the masses of teens running and driving through their neighborhood are doing.
"I've ran in someone else's yard and I've ran in their front yard and someone came out on their front porch with a gun and that's unfortunate," Bowsher said.
Instead of running or using a flashlight to tag someone, teens pile into cars, hopping in and out to catch the fugitives.
"People have been jumping out of cars while they were moving, somewhat relatively fast, but we tell people that if any rules are broken, if anybody gets hurt, we're just going to put an end to the game," Eugene Polupan, a player of the game, said.