The 'Fugitive' game, and why kids can't stop

A teen from rural Washington tells us why the »Play Video
A local teen tells us why the "Fugitive" game is such a rush.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Some Pacific Northwest teenagers say "brushes with death" won't keep them from playing a dangerous driving game.

The game is called "Fugitive," where teens pretend to be cops and criminals. The "game" goes like this: one player sets out on foot trying to reach a certain destination, while groups of other players speed around in cars trying to trap and tag that person with, say, a flashlight beam.

"Fugitive" has its own Facebook page now, and authorities worry that not enough parents know about its dangers. After all, in a recent game in Washington state two teens were hospitalized after speeding through a local neighborhood and crashing. And police say it's routine for kids to jump out of moving cars during the game.

The danger could be part of the reason more teens are taking part.

We talked to two kids who say they have played in dozens of matches. They told us why – even with cops in various cities across the Northwest clamping down – the game has become addictive.

"It's at night; there's a hundred and fifty people, energy drinks, adrenaline, testosterone," says Chris Demarco. "Everything's flying around. It's, it's a blast!"

And there are dangers even for those on foot: "I've ran in someone else's yard and I've ran in their front yard," says 19-year-old James Bowsher, "and someone came out on their front porch with a gun."

After a crash caused by the game earlier this month in Sammamish, Wash., police are on the lookout to catch other players before someone gets hurt.

We reported Dec. 7 on the Sammamish teen who sped down the road, skidded out of control and crashed into a tree and fence. Police say the 16-year-old driver and her passenger were playing the Fugitive game.

The game itself isn't against the law. However, the way it's played could be.

Six months earlier, in the Southwest Washington town of Kelso, police handed out several citations to kids for disorderly conduct and un-safe driving ... all related to this extreme game of tag. KATU's Bob Heye reported then that it's not just Kelso and Longview where this game is a hit. Apparently it's getting more popular up and down the West Coast.

"If they're not having fun doing something free," Kelso resident Valerie Bates told Heye, "...then what are they supposed to do?"

The Dec. 10 edition of Good Morning America, aired on KATU Channel 2 in Portland, focused on Northwest cities such as Kelso and Sammamish where this dangerous game is taking off.