News / Calgary

Calgary woman fears she may have been a 'knockout game' victim

Concussed and bruised, a Calgary woman fears a sinister "game" may have led to her being knocked out cold on a city sidewalk.

Chelsea Curran was walking with a group of friends around 2:30 a.m. Oct. 12 after partying at Twisted Element nightclub, when she and friends say a blue Honda Civic pulled up on an adjacent street.

A dark-skinned male hopped out of the vehicle and began punching people square in the face.

He reached Curran before she even realized what was happening.

"I remember thinking that he must have forgotten something at the bar," Curran recalled in an interview Tuesday. "Then he did like a running, Superman punch, he jumped into it. I fell backwards and hit my head on the ground. I was out for a second or two."

The 25-year-old says she and another man in the area were punched, but friend Justine Despins actually counted three victims. He then ran back to his vehicle and it sped off.

It wasn't until a few days later that Curran learned of the "knockout game" that has spurred concerns in major U.S. cities.

The so-called game is most commonly played by teenaged or young-adult males, who challenge each other to swarm unsuspecting people and punch them in the head with the sole purpose of knocking them out.

Late last year, American media outlets reported at least seven random, knockout-style attacks in New York City. Deaths in cities like St. Louis, Chicago and elsewhere have also been linked to similar style attacks. Law-enforcement officials have expressed fears that gangs use the game as a form of initiation.

Calgary police confirmed Tuesday that a complaint about the attack involving Curran had been filed, but couldn't confirm whether there was any link to the knockout game.

She may not be the first Alberta victim, however, as Grande Prairie resident Cathy Rode went public in May with claims that her 12-year-old grandson Thomas Steidel had been punched in the face, fracturing his jaw. She said the incident was filmed and believed it to be linked to the knockout game.

On Tuesday, Rode deemed the practice "disgusting."

"If you know how the brain works, all it takes is one punch and you can kill someone," she said.

Grande Prairie RCMP could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Cpl. Roy Kennedy did tell the National Post at the time that "we do have some indication there are some young people instigating fights, sometimes with very unwilling individuals."

He added, however, "But to go and label it as this knock-down or knockout game, I think that's a label that other people are choosing to put on it. We call it assault and we treat it as an assault investigation."

Curran, meanwhile, said she doesn't have any enemies, at least not the type that would assault her. She was left with a concussion, a hairline fracture on her nose and cartilage damage, which could require surgery.

"It's hard to even think about this being some sort of fun for someone," she said. "It's pretty awful."

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