WACONIA, Minn. (KMSP) - Another round of "Nerf Wars" came to an abrupt end just a few hours after it began last Friday in Waconia, Minnesota, when several teens were involved in a two-car rollover crash. It's the latest incident caused by the long-running game, following a deadly crash two years ago in Lakeville.
Nobody was hurt as a result of Friday's crash, though officials are warning students, parents and school administrators that it could have been so much worse.
"This is a wake-up call for all of us," said Waconia Superintendent Pat Devine. "Kids are invincible, they see themselves as that, and I think us as adults have to help them see the rest of the picture."
Nerf Wars is an annual "kill-or-be-killed" event in which participants split up into teams and eliminate one another by "shooting" other players with toy guns that fire foam bullets. Many schools around the Twin Cities metro have banned the annual game on school grounds due to the distraction it presents, but cannot stop teens from participating elsewhere.
In 2015 the game caused a crash that killed two Lakeville South High School students, an event that still haunts authorities who have sought to stem the problems caused by the game--namely, distracted driving.
"It’s not good when kids die needlessly over things like that," said LyNelle Brennecke, the mother of a student in the district. "It’s never a good situation."
Friday's crash occurred at the corner of Oak Avenue and Sparrow Road when a 16-year-old, driving from one Nerf Wars site to the next with a pair of other students in the car, ran a stop sign and collided with another car carrying a trio of Waconia classmates.
Shortly after, the Waconia Nerf 2018 Twitter account posted that, "due to some unfortunate events, the 2018 Waconia Nerf War is now over."
Administrators have since met with the drivers and those involved, while several warnings were issued for students in other districts hoping to continue their own Nerf Wars games in the hopes that similar incidents can be prevented in the future.
"Kids in other districts have been hurt or killed," said Steve Bredeson, the father of a student in the district. "I think it’s time now to come up with another game, a little safer game."