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Couple's insane first date story should earn them a trophy

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

The crazy first date that beats every bad date story you've ever heard

You may think you've been on some bad first dates before, but after we put out a call asking readers for their worst date stories, we realized that there are bad dates and then there is this.

A shootout, a trip to the ER, a drunk stranger, a car accident in an isolated canyon, a man hunt: Sophie* and Jack's first date story sounds more like a horror film than a rom-com. "We always win for the worst first date ever," Sophie laughs. Yet something must have gone right because the couple has now been together for two years and is engaged.

Like many modern couples Sophie and Jack's meet-cute happened on the Internet. Both were newly single after long, traumatic relationships and both had been talked into trying Tinder for the first time. After swiping right on each other's pictures, they decided to meet up in person — for lunch in an open restaurant at a crowded mall, because as Sophie says, "He could totally have been a serial killer or something!"

But they found it hard to really talk in the noisy atmosphere so they moved the conversation to a quieter corner, then to a bench outside the mall, and then to his car in the parking lot. Finally Jack offered to take her on a scenic drive in the mountains near his home. And that's when things got weird.

An avid hunter, Jack was intimately familiar with the surrounding area and took them up a winding, isolated canyon to a lake popular with other hunters. It was getting dark by the time they arrived and they discovered they weren't alone. "At first I was a little relieved to see other cars," Sophie says. "Until they started shooting at each other." Sophie and Jack had missed whatever instigated it but it became quickly apparent they'd stumbled into a drunken brawl in the wilderness.

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"This is exactly why I'm not into the bar scene," she half-joked and so after a quick look at the lake they decided to leave. But a few minutes back down the canyon, they came upon a grisly scene: One of the trucks they'd just seen at the lake was now head-first into a tree trunk after punching through a guard rail and the driver was slumped, unconscious, over the steering wheel.

As Jack ran to check on the man, Sophie realized she had no cell phone reception to call 911. So they dragged the man into the back seat of their car, intending to take him to safety. In the car, Jack disarmed the man and added his gun to the several hunting rifles he kept in his own car. "When Sophie saw the guns and I saw her face I knew I was never going to see her again," Jack confesses.

"I suddenly realized I was in a car, up a canyon at night with two virtual strangers and a bunch of weapons and no one knew where I was," she says, noting she hadn't bothered to tell anyone about their change of plans.

They were almost out of the canyon when the man in the back seat woke up, still drunk, and enraged. When they told him they were taking him to the hospital he got even more upset and demanded they take him to a different address but Jack made a beeline for the hospital instead. When they came to the ER, the man jumped out of the back seat and ran... the opposite direction.

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Confused, but thinking they had done their duty as good citizens, they headed back to the mall to get Sophie's car and maybe a hot drink to warm up. They weren't there very long when the police arrived, sirens wailing. It turned out the man they'd tried to drop at the ER was a wanted felon and security cameras at the hospital had caught Jack's license plate. After spending a couple hours separated at the police station, giving their statements and swearing that neither of them knew the man, Jack and Sophie finally parted ways.

"I was exhausted, yeah, but I had to talk about it with someone! It was just so crazy," Sophie says. "So... I called Jack. After all, who else would believe that story?"

And they basically haven't hung up the phone since. They're planning a wedding for early next year and in the meantime Sophie says she's quite sure Jack isn't a murderer... although they can both say they've now shared a long car ride with one.

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