Bravery award bittersweet for Poké​mon Go player who saved woman in assault

Crystal Lambert was searching for elusive Poké​mon monsters in the dark when she heard a guttural scream, and knew this was no game.

'You get that feeling in your gut, and you know something is just not okay'

Crystal Lambert was playing Poké​mon Go, an augmented reality game, on University of Alberta campus when she helped rescue a woman from assault. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

Crystal Lambert was searching for elusive Poké​mon monsters in the dark when she heard a guttural scream, and knew this was no game.

"You just get that feeling that something isn't right," Lambert recalled. "You get that feeling in your gut, and you know something is just not okay."

The Edmonton woman and her husband were playing the augmented reality game in the University of Alberta park near Saskatchewan Drive late one August evening last year when the wailing began.

"I knew something bad had happened," Lambert said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "You wonder where it is, you look around, you get that panicked feeling and you just start going towards wherever that is.

"It's just instinct."

Lambert followed that instinct, running toward the source of the screams, where she found a woman being assaulted in a nearby stand of trees.

Other people who had been playing the game nearby — complete strangers — also rushed in to rescue the woman from her attacker.

"It was just a matter of seconds, but you see the shock and that scared face and you just swarm to that person, you go to help," Lambert said.

Lambert arrived just as fellow players — Griffen Annett and Nicola Scott-Fedorow — pulled the woman out of the scrub, and away from her attacker.

'It should be our nature to help'

As Lambert's husband, along with 10 other passersby, attempted to chase down the assailant, she remained behind, comforting the victim.

She stayed with the woman all night, taking her to the hospital and even driving her home.

The assault remains under investigation, but no charges have been laid. 

"People have their ideas about Poké​mon Go but I have to say, on that day, for this incident, it was amazing what it did," Lambert said of the popular Nintendo game which uses a phone's GPS to make a cast of magical characters appear on screen, ready to be captured by players.

"I'm so thankful for each and every one who was there and decided to help."

Thursday night, Lambert, Annett and Scott Fedorow were awarded for their bravery at the Edmonton Police Commission Citizen Awards.

The awards acknowledge citizens who have intervened in a crime in progress, assisted the Edmonton Police Service in apprehending an offender, played a major role in the successful outcome of a police investigation, or put themselves at personal risk by coming to the aid of a police officer or fellow citizen in a dangerous situation.

'I will protect her forever'

Receiving the award was surreal for Lambert. She said she can't understand how such a basic urge to assist a person in distress would be considered heroic.

"A part of my heart broke while having this award given to me," said Lambert. "I feel like any human should have done the same thing that I did.

"Having such true, whole-hearted people coming up to me and thanking me for what I had done and telling me that it's so rare, it was heartbreaking … It should be our nature to help."

There were unrecognized heroes that night, said Lambert, who can't help thinking about the victim. She's the one who had to go through the "real trauma," Lambert said, and her bravery should not be forgotten.

Since that terrifying night last year, the pair have become close friends. Though Lambert denies that her actions were heroic, it's evident that she remains that woman's fierce protector.

"It's been a blessing. I absolutely adore and love this woman," said Lambert."Our paths crossed in such a hard way but we were meant to know each other.

"I will forever hold her dear and I will protect her forever."

With files from Tanara Mclean