Coast Guard seeks information after laser strike hits boatcrew

SEATTLE — The Coast Guard is requesting information from the public in locating a suspect or suspects who pointed a green laser light into the eyes of a Coast Guard Station Tillamook Bay boatcrew member west of the Tillamook Bay entrance Wednesday evening.

Around 10:45 p.m., the 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew reported that a laser was shined into the eyes of one of the boatcrew members while the vessel was conducting training operations approximately one mile offshore northwest of the Tillamook Bay North Jetty.

The boatcrew reported the laser originated near Nedonna Beach or Manhattan Beach, off the Oregon Coast.

Laser pointers can cause danger to Coast Guard aircrews, boatcrews, and cutter crews due to glare, afterimage, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision. If a laser is shined in the eyes of an aircrew member, Coast Guard flight rules dictate that the aircraft must abort its mission.

The individual who was struck by the laser suffered from distorted vision following the incident.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft or vessel is a felony crime under 18 U.S. Code Section 111, which states whoever forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person – a U.S. government officer – (in this case, a Coast Guard member) engaged in performance of his/her official duties, is in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 111.

Aiming a laser pointer at a vessel is also a crime under 46 U.S. Code section 70014, which states ‘It shall be unlawful to cause the beam of a laser pointer to strike a vessel operating on the navigable waters of the United States.’

Coast Guard Investigative Service agents are investigating the incident.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact investigators at (503) 247-4002 or anonymously at CGIS tips.

For more information about laser safety and the effects of a laser incident, visit the Federal Aviation Administration’s Laser Safety Initiative webpage.

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