Watch CBS News

Teen Charged After Pointing Laser At Chopper

PARKVILLE, Md. (WJZ) -- It could have been a catastrophe in mid-air--two Maryland State Police chopper pilots were blinded by a laser light.

Suzanne Collins reports the person responsible was tracked to a Parkville home and arrested.

A Maryland State Police chopper flight crew averted disaster this week during a training mission. The pilots were suddenly blinded by the intense light of a laser pointer.

"This is potentially lethal. Parents, as well as people who own these pointers, need to understand this is not a game, a video game, this is serious business," said Walter Kerr, aviation commander.

A 13-year-old from Parkville has been charged with reckless endangerment. The chopper wasn't on an emergency detail, so it turned around and tracked down the location of the green light to a specific house. Baltimore County Police moved in.

When the flight crew is out at night, their pupils are dilated for night vision. Suddenly they get a flash of green. Their pupils contract and for a moment they are blinded.

"The beam will light up the entire cockpit and make it impossible to see outside, which is extremely dangerous when flying around objects in a populated area," said Chris Tappan, paramedic.

The light doesn't lose intensity over distance and can even hurt human eyes at the level the choppers fly. It reflects gauges and other shiny parts of the cockpit, causing a big flash.

In an instant the pilots are incapacitated in what they can see and do, and they're travelling 175 miles per hour across the sky.

The problem is affecting other police agencies, private pilots and even large aircraft. Police say it's happening more and more.

So police ask parents to tell their children light misuse is a violation of the law and it could kill people.

The 13-year-old boy has not been identified. He is charged as a juvenile.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.