Police investigating reports of laser aimed at AirMed helicopter
Sam Penrod, Deseret News
HIGHLAND — Police are investigating a report that someone aimed a laser at a medical helicopter Friday night as it flew over North County Boulevard.
Investigators say a laser aimed at a cockpit can blind pilots and interfere with their ability to keep the helicopter in the air.
The AirMed pilot called police, and a Lone Peak officer responded to the area but could not find who was responsible.
Lasers being flashed in the cockpit is rare but a worry for pilots.
"If you are hit in the face or the eyes by any kind of laser light, it has the potential to temporarily blind you or at the very least to sort of get that after-effect glow when you see a rapid flash of light to the eyes,” said Ben Tidswell, KSL Chopper 5 pilot.
For an aircraft 1,000 feet in the air, the laser is very overwhelming, Tidswell said, especially to a pilot's vision at night.
“What starts out as a pencil-size beam, up to 2 or 3 feet wide at that point, which will seriously illuminate," Tidswell said. "And if you are getting hit in the face, it doesn't matter how much it illuminates. You're still getting hit in the face.”
Just like a lightning strike, pilots can't avoid a laser. Once it's flashed in their eyes, it's already too late, he said.
“Now you can’t really fly the aircraft because you don’t know where you are going because you are blind," Tidswell said. "That potentially could lead to a serious accident or crash.”
It is a criminal offense to point a laser at any cockpit, punishable with jail time and a fine.
"It actually is a federal offense to shine a laser at an aircraft,” Lone Peak police detective Dave Ventrano said. “There actually is a state offense about shining lasers at a moving vehicle or a police officer. You shouldn't point a laser at anybody.”
- Husband and wife of 74 years die hours apart...
- Ed and Elizabeth Smart make plea for help in...
- Former Romney finance chairman courting a...
- Former wrestlers charged, assistant coach...
- 22 songs Utahns love singing in the car
- Utah construction companies fined, ordered to...
- Utah man accused of rape is no stranger to...
- Utah in top 10 for visitor spending at...
- Poll: LDS Church influence over... 60
- Utah GOP leaders going forward with new... 59
- Josh Romney: I won't run against Sen.... 57
- Former Romney finance chairman courting... 49
- Doctor: Vaccines result in healthy... 43
- Why is BYU honoring Robby George, and... 20
- Former Davis High teacher admits to... 19
- Tickets sell out for 'Book of Mormon'... 16