Coast Guard Aircrew Forced to Land After Laser Illumination

SAN PEDRO, Calif. – For the second time in less than a week, a Coast Guard MH-65C Dolphin helicopter was forced to make an precautionary landing at their hangar after someone illuminated the crew with a laser.

While conducting flight operations over Cabrillo Beach at about 9 p.m. Thursday, the aircrew was flashed with a laser that affected their vision. Coast Guard flight rules dictate that if any aircrew member’s vision is compromised, the aircraft must land immediately at the closest airport.

Additionally, aircrew members are taken off flight duty for a minimum of 24 hours and must have their eyes dilated and to be cleared by a doctor before flying again. This temporary loss of flight crews has the potential to significantly affect the unit’s abilities to conduct search, rescue, and homeland security missions.

People convicted of willfully and maliciously discharging a laser at any aircraft can be punished under California Penal Code with a misdemeanor and prison time up to one year with a $1000 fine, or a felony and prison time up to 16 months and a $2000 fine. In addition, federal charges can be brought against the convicted person and can carry a sentence up to 20 years in prison and fines.

Members of the public who witness someone committing this crime are strongly encouraged to immediately call 911 to report the incident.

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