No charges in 'Nerf wars' crash that killed 2 Lakeville teens


No charges will be filed in connection with the crash that killed two Lakeville South High School students last December.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom made the announcement Friday.

The fatal one-vehicle crash happened after school Dec. 4 when a pickup truck carrying four teenagers rolled over on 225th Street near Dodd Boulevard. John Price, 18, and Jacob Flynn, 17, were thrown from the vehicle and died.

Following an investigation, it was determined that all of the passengers and the driver of the vehicle were voluntarily participating in a "Nerf war" game, the attorney says.

The game consists of teams shooting each other with Nerf bullets for points. According to the news release, participants are sometimes "kidnapped" and taken to various locations where other players then shoot them with the foam bullets.

What Happened

Backstrom says on the day of the crash, Flynn had been surrounded by the other teenagers involved and placed in the Toyota Tundra.

Flynn sat in the backseat between Price and another 18-year-old passenger, authorities say.

According to the news release, a witness told investigators that she met the truck on the road – she and the boys were traveling in opposite directions. The witness said the truck had been in the wrong lane, corrected itself and then started to roll. She dialed 911 and estimated the truck rolled three or four times.

Price and Flynn were pronounced dead at the scene. The 17-year-old driver suffered serious head and back injuries and was flown to Hennepin County Medical Center. The other passenger had been wearing a seatbelt and only suffered minor injuries.

Officials say the 18-year-old passenger told investigators that the teens – in the midst of the game – bumped the driver, causing him to swerve into the wrong lane, over-correct and roll the vehicle.

Since the crash, the Lakeville Area Public Schools superintendent announced that the students had decided to quit playing the game.

Charges were considered

Charges for the following crimes were considered: Kidnapping and false imprisonment, criminal vehicular homicide or injury, reckless driving, failure to exercise due care when driving and failure to drive in a single lane.

The attorney says charges weren't filed because the students voluntarily participated, there's no proof of speeding or careless driving, and it's not the driver's fault for being bumped.

Backtsrom says even though charges are not being filed, it's important to remember that "games such as 'Nerf war' have no place in a moving motor vehicle," because it can lead to disasters such as this.

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