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Man accused of shining laser at sheriff’s helicopter flying in California 22 times

Laser Light (frankieleon/Flickr)

A 28-year-old man was arrested early Monday on suspicion of shining a laser at a sheriff’s helicopter 22 times as it flew over San Marcos, officials said.

The sheriff’s helicopter was assisting deputies with a vehicle pursuit — and had been flying in the area for more than an hour — when someone started flashing a green laser at it, sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Wisniewski said.

The pilot reported the first laser flash around 1:42 a.m., said sheriff’s Lt. David Collins. In all, the crew reported the aircraft was hit with 22 laser strikes.

Lasers are dangerous because pilots can be briefly blinded or possibly suffer permanent eye damage.

Deputies on the ground tracked the laser to a residence on Smiliax Road near state Route 78 in San Marcos and arrested a person at the home around 2 a.m., officials said.

Wisniewski said he did not know if a laser was recovered. He said the pilot did not report any injuries.

According to jail records, the man was being held at the Vista jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

The FAA received 9,723 reports from pilots last year, a 41 percent increase over 2020. Pilots have reported more than 244 injuries since the FAA began recording data on laser strikes in 2010. The FAA said it issued more than $120,000 in fines for laser strikes last year.


© 2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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