Forget drinking and driving. The government has a new type of impairment to think about plaguing the entire country. It’s called Pokémon. Well, Pokémon Go to be more exact. The strange creatures are now a hit mobile game that has people of all ages stumbling around like zombies trying to “hunt” the virtual cartoons, which make appearances at various “Pokéstops” based on GPS coordinates. As the popularity of the game increases with new and rare Pokémon making appearances, so too do the number of accidents caused by people playing Pokémon Go. An increasing number of these entirely preventable accidents are car accidents.
Pokémon’s Mobile Game
The insanely popular app was released just a few months ago on July 6, 2016. A few days later, data revealed that there are approximately 9.5 million players in America. Can you guess which state is the most active? A recent survey by Internet Service Partners has exposed Oregon as the most involved state, with Oregonians spending more time playing the game than players elsewhere.
There are 151 Pokémon in the Pokémon Go universe, which is the original lineup from the early 90s when the franchise surged in popularity. It is no surprise then that 60% of players are between 18 and 24. Anybody who grew up with the original Pokémon cast is fond of the Pokémon universe, which sheds some light on why young adults pushing their thirties are so hooked on the game. There is a nostalgic quality about the game which makes it hard to break away, apparently even when doing so would be the responsible thing to do, such as when they are behind the wheel or sneaking around at night.
Pokémon Go Sparks Flurry of Baseless Accidents
Just 5 days after the game’s release, Oregon and Washington police departments sent this message to Poké-players:
“Be careful and pay attention to the law while trying to catch ‘em all.”
Almost immediately after the game’s release people started shedding a few IQ points and getting hurt in the process. Reports cropped up of people trespassing to catch Pokémon, as well as people finding dead bodies and using the game to commit armed robberies.
Tragically, a life was lost in Mariondale, NC when a teenager was shot and killed after trespassing onto private property while playing. In the first reported Pokémon Go-related death, the fifteen-year-old and a friend who was sleeping over left the home at 1 am on a Sunday in search of a rare Pokémon. The teenager triggered security lights around the property he was trespassing, he then walked into an enclosed section of the back porch. He next began checking windows around the house and attempting to open them as the creature appeared to be inside.
Homeowner Ellen Jones, a 67-year old widow living by herself in the home armed herself with a pistol belonging to her deceased husband, called emergency services, panicked, and shot the teenager two times. Both shots were a direct hit to the chest. The teen was taken to a nearby hospital where he died from the injuries sustained.
In New York, a 28-year-old from Oregon sustained a leg injury when he crashed into a tree while playing Pokémon Go in Auburn, NY near Syracuse. He had traveled cross country for his sister’s wedding. The former Marine claims he is not one to use a phone when he is behind the wheel, despite the fact that he totaled his brother’s car. “Momentary lapse of reason” was his direct answer to why he totaled his car seeking a Lapras, a rare Pokémon in the game. You can read all about Steve Cary right here.
21-year old Michael Baker, another avid Pokémon Go player and victim, was strolling through Forest Park at 1 am when he was stabbed. He had assumed the man who stabbed him was also playing the game, which is why he approached a complete stranger. In the game, players can “challenge” each other to “battle” and pit their Pokémon against each other. After the stabbing, Baker did not seek emergency care as he instead wanted to keep capturing Pokémon. “Right after I was stabbed, I continued my mission to Plaid Pantry for my mission for chips and beer,” he said. Baker continues to play the game and has his heart set on catching all 151 Pokémon.
Young men should especially use caution as seen by the evidence above, but anyone who must publicly engage while playing must be aware of their surroundings at all times. Distracted walkers and cyclists must always be on the alert. Pokémon Go was intended to get sluggish kids off the couch and it can be a great way to meet and mingle with other people who share your interests. It can certainly be a lot of fun, but catching a Charizard is not worth your life.
If you have been injured by a Pokémon Go accident in greater Portland, RizkLaw is the local personal injury law firm you can count on. Call attorney Richard Rizk at (503) 245-5677 for a free case evaluation.