Sunday, March 25, 2018

Officials investigate after laser pointed at U.S. Coast Guard helicopter



PORT ANGELES, Wash. -- Investigators are trying to figure out who pointed a laser at a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter last week, forcing the crew to abort its mission.

Any time Cmdr. Hans Goversten with the U.S. Coast Guard takes the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter out, he performs a thorough check to look for any inconsistencies.

"Ever single flight we go on, we'll look around this aircraft," Goversten said.

On Wednesday night, he and his team had just left the air station in Port Angeles to do some practice approaches after returning from a training flight in Bellingham.

They were about 1,000 feet up, a mile or two away, when someone pointed a green laser at them from the ground.

"It's almost like being inside of a club," Goversten said.

They immediately turned right and aborted their mission.

"The laser came in on the right side of the aircraft, came in through, and hit him directly in the eye," Goversten said.




The eyes of Govertsen's co-pilot and flight mechanic were both hit before the helicopter returned safely to the ground.

Goversten hates to think about what could have happened had they been in the middle of an actual search and rescue mission.

"Our mission is to take are of other people, and so if we can't do that one...then we can't take care of their loved ones who are out in the water, who find themselves in harm's way, who find themselves in bad weather."

The crew contacted police and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Investigators believe the laser came from somewhere between 4th and 8th Streets on the east side of Lincoln in Port Angeles.

Fortunately, none of them suffered permanent damage to their retinas, but one of the pilots will be grounded for several more weeks.

"If any one of the crew members had taken a laser that was a category 3 or higher straight into the retina, we would have caused damage that's permanent at that point," Goversten said.

At this point, investigators don't know if one person or a couple of people might have been behind this.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal crime that could lead to several years in prison. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://komonews.com

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