ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Sand Key was targeted with a laser from the shore approximately one mile southwest of Clearwater, Sunday.
The station informed the station's watchstanders at 10:18 p.m., reporting the 25-foot Response Boat — Small boat crew experienced a three to four second blue, green laser burst while on patrol in the area. The entire crew experienced loss of night vision and half the crew received a direct hit from the laser.
The boat crew had to return to the station and receive eye exams.
Recently, aircrews in the area have experienced the same hazard from people pointing lasers at helicopters and endangering the crews. Any laser poses a significant hazard to flight and boatcrews, especially when the helicopter crews are operating at low altitude at night.
The Coast Guard wants to remind the public that pointing a laser at any aircraft is a federal offense.
“It is important to point out that the people committing these crimes are not only putting the lives of our helicopter and boat crews in jeopardy, but they are also endangering the lives of their fellow citizens,” said Lt. Kathleen Sullivan, a search and rescue coordinator at the sector. “We’re asking the public to help us put an end to this reckless behavior by reporting the illegal use of lasers if they witness it happening."