Less than a month into its release, “Pokémon Go” has been downloaded over 30 million times worldwide and has generated profits exceeding $35 million. But with 30 million users comes its fair share of near-fatal accidents. From stabbings to falling off 80-foot cliffs, here are some of the most newsworthy accidents caused by what is currently and inarguably the most influential app on your smartphone.
1. User collides with parked police car
It’s one thing to hit a car while on your phone. It’s another to hit a PARKED POLICE VEHICLE while playing Pokémon Go on your phone. This is exactly what happened to a Baltimore native who struck a parked police car in his RAV4. Lucky for us, one of the police officers captured the whole thing on a body camera.
When struck, officers pursued the driver who got out of his vehicle, exposed his phone and shouted “That’s what I get for playing this dumbass game!” Indeed, driving Pokémon Go player, that IS what you get.
2. Woman gets trapped in tree, calls 911
In Clarksboro, New Jersey, a moronic woman tried catching Pokémon in a local cemetery. While this already sounds idiotic (and perhaps disrespectful), it gets worse. In the cemetery, the woman decided to climb a tree. Inevitably, she got stuck. As a result, she called 911 to be rescued. As such, a team of firefighters did their civic duty and set up an extension ladder to bring her down. Officials chose not to release her name, saying they wanted to spare her additional embarrassment.
3. Driver crashes into tree, breaks ankle
At 10:45 on a Tuesday night, a 28-year-old driver smashed his car into a tree in Upstate New York in pursuit of a Pokémon in Pokémon Go. The driver wasn’t seriously injured, but the car (which was his younger brother’s) was reminiscent of a smashed soda can, a total write-off. The driver broke his ankle and received multiple cuts to his legs as a result. He was then rushed to hospital. All for a Pokémon. In a game.
4. Pikachu causes major highway accident
In Massachusetts, a 26-year-old caused what the local media is calling “one of the worst highway accidents” after coming to a complete stop in the middle of the highway to catch none other than the symbolic Pikachu. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is.
The driver, Lamar Hickson, admitted to police that he was playing Pokémon Go, adding: “Sh*t, if you wanna catch them all you gotta risk it all, so I put my car in park and started tossing these balls!” The media then spoke to one of the victims who admitted he too was playing the game. Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt in the crash.
5. ANOTHER police car is hit
A driver and passenger playing the game in Quebec City crashed into a police vehicle (yet again) in — get this — a parking lot.
Officers had been preparing to pull the car over for failing to signal a turn when the accident happened. The police were struck so hard that both officers were sent to the hospital for minor injuries sustained in the collision. When asked by police, both players admitted to playing the game. As a result, the driver of the car received two tickets: one for failing to signal, and the other for not properly looking behind the car before reversing. Being a complete idiot cannot be punishable by law, apparently.
6. Drunk guys fall off cliff to catch rare Pokemon
Two drunk dudes (21 and 22 years old) fell off a cliff — a CLIFF! — in San Diego due to some hard-core hunting on Pokémon Go. On the day of the accident, San Diego lifeguards received a report saying someone had fallen off the cliff and, when the fire department arrived, officials found an injured man roughly 80-90 feet down on the beach. The second victim was found completely knocked out about 50 feet down. Police officials say there is a fence that warns the public not to trespass in that area, but the men disregarded this warning insistent on finding a rare Pokemon that was indicated on their phone.
7. Popular Pokestop in California houses sex offenders
Pokestops are landmarks in the app that players are urged to visit with promises of free items and other in-game advantages. So imagine how parents felt when they discovered a popular Pokestop in California was Sunny Acres, a 72-acre treatment facility housing alcoholics and sex offenders. Pretty sketchy, right? Just a bunch of innocent children ripe for the picking.
The report concludes that it is not immediately clear how Pokémon Go developer Niantic Inc. chooses its locations and that Niantic’s support page has an online request form where players can ask for removal of a location, but it “is not guaranteed.” Let’s hope this one is.
8. Pokémon Go players: Beware of land mines
Pokémon Go players in Bosnia have been asked to avoid areas “littered with unexploded mines left over from the 1990s conflict.” Things got so bad, the NGO Posavina bes mina issued this statement on its Facebook page: “Today we received information that some users of the Pokémon Go app in Bosnia were going to places which are a risk for (unexploded) mines, in search of a Pokemon,” adding that “Citizens are urged not to do so, to respect demarcation signs of dangerous minefields and not to go into unknown areas,” it added. Since the end of the war, land mine blasts have killed some 600 people and wounded more than 1,100.
9. Man stabbed, continues on in pursuit of Pokémon
A 21-year-old, Michael Baker, was stabbed while catching Pokémon around 1 a.m. in Oregon. He stumbled across someone he thought was another player, but when he asked him if he wanted to battle, the stranger instead stabbed him in the shoulder. He said he didn’t go to the hospital because he wanted to continue catching Pokémon. “Right after I was stabbed, I continued my mission to Plaid Pantry for my mission for chips and beer,” he said. “I basically risked my life.”
10. Gain a Pokémon, lose your wallet
Armed robbers (aged 16-18) in Missouri used the app to lure Pokémon Go players into an isolated location — an abandoned parking lot — around 2 a.m. to rob them. “Using the geolocation feature,” Sgt. Bill Stringer said, “The robbers were able to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims.” The adult suspects were charged with first degree robbery, a felony and had bond set at $100,000 cash.
In a separate statement, a department spokesperson added: “You can add a beacon to a Pokestop to lure more players. Apparently they were using the app to locate [people] standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in.” The middle of a parking lot at 2 a.m.? Maybe those people deserved it.
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