Last updated: 04:35 PM ET, Tue June 02 2015

Coast Guard Helicopter, Ships Targeted by Lasers

Impacting Travel | Theresa Norton | June 02, 2015

Coast Guard Helicopter, Ships Targeted by Lasers

PHOTO: A Coast Guard cutter rescues 117 Dominicans off an overloaded vessel on May 20. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard District 7)

Last week, idiots were flashing green lasers into cockpits of multiple passenger planes departing New York’s Kennedy airport. Now, the U.S. Coast Guard — the military organization that protects our shores, rescues distressed boaters and ensures our safety on cruise ships — is reporting three similar incidents in Florida and the Caribbean in recent weeks.

Shining green lasers into the eyes of the men and women piloting helicopters and boats is a federal crime and a felony, the Coast Guard District 7 headquarters warned in a June 2 press release.

On Monday, a green laser from land shined into an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter one nautical mile south of Punta Salina, Puerto Rico, and another targeted an 87-foot patrol boat near Sanibel Island, Fla.

And, on May 10, a Coast Guard cutter reported a laser strike while conducting a safety inspection of a recreational vessel in the vicinity of the Venetian Causeway in Miami.

No injuries were reported, but all three laser cases are being investigated by Coast Guard Investigative Service.

“The Coast Guard is warning the public that pointing handheld lasers at Coast Guard boat and aircrews is dangerous and illegal,” the press release said. “Laser pointers are inexpensive to obtain and can extend over two miles in range. Pilots affected by laser strikes regularly report temporary effects in vision, including afterimage, flash blindness and temporary loss of night vision. In some cases, laser strike can result in permanent damage to a person’s eyesight. If a crew member is lased, it severely compromises his ability to effectively respond and safely operate the aircraft, ultimately endangering the safety and lives of crewmembers onboard and the general public. Anyone witnessing this crime is strongly encouraged to report it to local law enforcement.”

Those found guilty of pointing a laser at an aircraft face fines of up to $250,000 and sentences of up to five years in prison.

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