High school students playing an organized game of "Nerf wars" caused a crash in New Hope that injured two innocent bystanders Monday night, according to police.
The crash occurred about 9:12 p.m. in the 4600 block of Winnetka Avenue. New Hope Police Chief Tim Fournier said two cars driven by Robbinsdale Armstrong High School students were involved in a high-speed chase playing the popular game, which requires players to "stalk" and "kill" each other with toy guns.
Fournier said one driver crashed into the bystander's car and forced it off the road into a telephone pole, while the teen's car came to rest in a front yard. Both cars had significant damage. The second teen car fled the scene. Two adults in the struck vehicle received noncritical injuries and have since been released from North Memorial Medical Center.
Fournier called Monday's accident "incredibly stupid and reckless" and the game a "recipe for disaster."
"It's really amazing no one was killed," Fournier said. "The drivers of the cars knew exactly what they were doing and just lost control."
Several blocks of Winnetka were closed on either side of the scene, according to police dispatch traffic. The State Patrol was called in to assist with the investigation.
Fournier said misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor charges are possible.
The students involved are "good kids but made some bad decisions," said Armstrong Principal David Dahl.
The goal of "Nerf wars" is to be the last team or player standing, reaping a cash prize that can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars. Most schools ban the game — which can last for weeks — from campuses, and teen organizers of games often ban it from churches, restaurants and places of work. But players in pursuit sometimes engage in risky behavior in search of a high-stakes prize or merely bragging rights.
Fournier said about 100 students each paid $5 to play.
In December, Nerf wars played a role in a crash that killed two of four Lakeville teens when the pickup truck they were riding in rolled over.
In an e-mail to Armstrong parents, school officials said the crash was being looked into, and the students involved could be disciplined.
"This incident is very unfortunate, and does not represent the vast majority of children in the district we know are doing the right thing every day," said Superintendent Carlton D. Jenkins in the e-mail. "Nerf guns are not allowed at our schools. Please talk to your students if you believe they are participating in this kind of game. We want our students to remain safe."