Someone out there is trying to blind Coast Guard rescue workers. Let’s help find him (or her).
Ronald Reagan once said “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” The exception to that rule is when those words are uttered from the deck of a Coast Guard boat. No matter how one feels about the state of law enforcement today, it’s hard to imagine that someone out there wants to stop Coast Guard search and rescue crews from saving people. But someone does, and the Coast Guard wants our help finding him.
This past Monday the 17th, someone pointed a blue laser light at a Station Seattle boatcrew conducting search and rescue operations Monday night near Point Wells. The laser strike reportedly came from the general vicinity of the Point Wells area. There’s every reason to believe that this was a deliberate attempt to blind that crew, because the perp (or perps) selected a blue laser. According to research, blue lasers are more dangerous than red and green ones because blue is more easily absorbed by pigments in the retina and thus more damaging to it.
At first, the crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium didn’t think they had been hurt by the laser strike. However, several minutes later, multiple crew members reported experiencing pain and discomfort in their eyes as a result of the exposure. Laser pointers can cause danger to Coast Guard air and boatcrews due to glare, afterimage, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision. If a laser is shined in the eyes of an aircrew member, Coast Guard flight rules dictate that the aircraft must abort its mission.
“Laser incidents are incredibly dangerous, put the safety of our boatcrews in jeopardy and degrade our ability to navigate and respond to search and rescue,” said Lt. Alex Cropley, commanding officer of Station Seattle. “We ask the public to understand the dangers associated with playing with lasers and how they disrupt search and rescue assets from responding to mariners in distress.”
Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft or vessel is a felony crime under 18 U.S. Code Section 111, which states whoever forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person – a U.S. government officer – (in this case, a Coast Guard member) engaged in performance of his/her official duties, is in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 111.
Coast Guard Investigative Service agents are working with local law enforcement to investigate the incident. Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact investigators at 206-220-7170 and visit: https://www.uscg.mil/Units/Coast-Guard-Investigative-Service/.
For more information about laser safety and the affects of a laser incident, visit the Federal Aviation Administration’s Laser Safety Imitative webpage at: http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/lasers/
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