Coast Guard Crew Grounded for Two Hours by Laser Strike


PORT ANGELES, Wash. — A Coast Guard air crew was medically grounded for two hours after someone pointed a green laser light at its helicopter.

The agency says the helicopter was on its final approach to Air Station Port Angeles at 8:23 p.m. Monday when someone pointed the laser from the vicinity of 4th and Hill Street in Port Angeles.

The helicopter landed safely, but the crew had to be checked out medically because laser pointers can cause flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision. While the crew was grounded, faraway crews from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and the Coast Guard's Columbia River sector, based in Warrenton, Oregon, were on call to provide emergency rescue services.

The Coast Guard says that can delay rescue times and put mariners at risk, in addition to the danger laser strikes pose to air crews.

The agency is asking the public for help figuring out who pointed the laser. Doing so is a felony under federal law.

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