A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Blue laser pointer said to injure ferry captain in Washington state

The captains of a Washington state ferry were each hit by blue laser light, aimed at them by a man in his twenties from a passing ferry. The October 22 2015 incident lasted about a minute, and resulted in eye injuries to one of the captains. Also, earlier that same evening, a motorcyclist on Whidbey Island had a blue laser aimed at him while going to the ferry terminal.

This map shows the ferries’ route. The map’s indicated positions of the ferries are from a later time and do NOT show their position during the laser incident.

Washington State ferries map

At about 8:30 pm, the ferry M/V Tokitae (shown below) was approaching the Clinton (Wash.) Ferry Terminal. The captains were at wheelhouses on opposite ends of the 362-foot-long ferry. The one piloting the vessel was hit first, and suffered injuries.

Washington State Ferry MV Tokitae 01

According to Washington State Ferries Port Captain Jay Mooney, the man had “third-degree burns on his eyelid and his vision is still not quite back at 100 percent.” (A first-degree burn occurs only on the surface of the skin. A third-degree burn “extends to all layers of the skin,” according to the Wikipedia “Burn” article.)

The blue laser beam came from the slightly smaller ferry M/V Kitsap, which was traveling in the opposite direction.

Washington State Ferry MV Kitsap 328ft

A Kitsap deckhand had seen two men with the laser, and reported it to a Washington State Patrol trooper after arrival at the terminal in Mukilteo. One man told the officer that “it was a new toy and he was shining it at the water and didn’t mean to shine it at the vessel,” according to a WSP spokesperson. The trooper confiscated the laser pointer, shown here:

Blue laser Washington state ferry

The spokesperson said “This is not a typical laser you’d see in a classroom or office setting.” She referenced the manufacturer’s packaging which says to use safety glasses, to not aim it at faces, and that it could light a match if held on target long enough.

A similar-looking laser sold by Lasers-Pointers.com is said to be 5000 mW (5 watts) and costs less than $200:

Lasers-Pointers dot com 5W blue laser

The two captains exposed to the laser light missed one day of work. The suspect who had the laser has not yet been charged, as of October 29 2015. Prosecutors are determining what charges would be appropriate.

UPDATED - November 9 2015: No arrests have yet been made and no charges have been filed, more than two weeks after a suspect was picked up. This is due in part to determining what jursidiction applied, since the laser incident took place on ferries in waters between different Washington state counties. Another difficulty was determining what charge to file. A KIRO radio story also noted the limitations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates lasers. While FDA attempts to block some high-powered lasers, imports can get through. And, “there aren't any penalties for buying or owning those illegally high-powered devices, nor are there requirements for training for non-medical, non-industrial devices.” From MyNorthwest.com

UPDATED - April 18 2015: 27-year-old Mark Raden was charged with assault in the third degree, for aiming at the ferry captains. In addition, he has a previous history of run-ins with law enforcement over laser misuse. Details are here.

An analysis of the laser’s power and capabilities is below (click on the “read more” link).

From KOMO News, Q13Fox, the Kitsap Sun and Wikipedia. Ferry drawings and route map from Washington State Department of Transportation website. Laser pointer info from Lasers-Pointers.com.

Click to read more...

US: Tennessee man "nearly causes accident' aiming laser pointer at cars on Interstate

A 34-year-old Chattanooga (TN) man was arrested for aiming a green laser pointer at vehicles on Interstate 75.

A motorist called 911 to report that a male in the front passenger seat of a silver Honda was shining the laser onto cars and trucks. The caller said the laser made it difficult to see, and almost caused a crash involving an 18-wheel truck and another vehicle. The Honda was traveling northbound on I-75 in Bradley County, east of Chattanooga.

Officers located the car, where Gary Dewayne Couey admitted aiming the laser at other vehicles. He was arrested on a charge of felony reckless endangerment. The driver of the car, 34-year-old Brandi Rapier, was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Gary Dewayne Couey laser
Gary Dewayne Couey


From WDEF, the Chattanoogan, and the Times Free Press

US: Florida man points laser at motorists, arrested, found with marijuana up his rear

A 27-year-old man was arrested on April 5 2015 for aiming a laser beam at motorists as he was driven by his girlfriend around Ormond Beach, Florida. When asked why she was being pulled over, driver Brandie Tate, 28, said “Because Jesse was shining the laser light at people and I told him not to.” Passenger Jesse Roepcke told police he did not know it was illegal to shine the light at people and “he was just having fun.”

Police found a smoking device on Roepke that later tested positive for cannabis. During a strip search of Roepcke at the jail, “a bag of a green leafy substance that smelled like marijuana fell out of his rectum.”

Jesse Roepcke laser marijuana
Jesse Roepcke


Roepke was charged with pointing a laser at a driver or pilot, possession or use of narcotic paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, and smuggling contraband into a prison.

From ClickOrlando.com and WFTV.com

US: 3-car accident in Springfield Missouri said to be caused by laser light

A case where laser light caused a vehicular accident is described in a February 23 1999 ordinance filed in Springfield, Missouri.

Ordinance 4880 has an attached “Explanation to Amended Council Bill No. 99-61” which gives some reasons for the city’s restrictions on laser use and possession. One of the “local abuses” cited is the following:

  • “Another offense includes a three-car collision, where a young man pointed a laser light into the car ahead of him and startled the driver, causing him to slam on his brakes and cause a pileup.”


UK: Laser light forces motorist to stop; police looking for perpetrator

Police are looking for the person who aimed a bright green laser at motorists in the Devon-area seaside resort town of Torquay, between about 9:00 and 9:05 pm on September 1 2014.

According to police, “We are investigating an incident of causing danger to road users under the Road Traffic Act. A motorist was going around the roundabout near the Pavilion and a green laser light was shone directly in his eyes, causing him to stop his vehicle. We are appealing to the public. Were you around at that time? Did you see the incident? Were you subject to someone shining a laser light on you?”

From the Herald Express

US: Florida man buys laser pointer; arrested hours later for aiming at motorists, officer

A Florida man was arrested for aiming a green laser pointer at motorists -- and eventually at a Daytona Beach Shores officer -- at about 12:30 am on June 16 2014. When told he had committed a felony, the man apologized to the officer, who accepted the apology. Nonetheless, Walter Nevarez, 22, of Lakeland, was charged with pointing a laser light at a driver or pilot.

Pic 2014-08-18 at 4.21.48 PM
Walter Nevarez


Nevarez had purchased the laser earlier in the evening. Riding as a passenger in his girlfriend’s car, he began aiming the laser at oncoming cars, including the officer’s car.

After later told a reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he did not know it was illegal to misuse a laser pointer. He said he had been pointing it at a treeline and did not intend it to shine it at anyone’s eyes.

A defense attorney quoted by the newspaper said “If you are going to criminalize the conduct or behavior, then the government needs to explain and make the public aware why their action poses a potential danger.”

From the Daytona Beach News-Journal

Canada: Concern over driver distraction from laser pointers

On the heels of publicity over laser pointer interference with aircrews, a former worker in Alberta law enforcement warned about hazards to drivers as well.

Justin Crocker said he dealt with complaints from drivers in Alberta who were distracted by people in other vehicles misusing laser pointers. “I don’t think the should be in the general public,” he said. “It’s pretty distracting and it can almost cause an accident.”

According to Crocker, some of the vehicle lasing complaints led to criminal charges being filed.

From The Telegram

US: Man arrested for aiming laser at drivers

A 21-year-old was arrested February 26 2014 for aiming a green laser into cars the night before. The incidents occurred in Newton, Massachusetts.

The unnamed man was charged with disorderly conduct and with assault and battery. Although there were also two reports of a green laser being aimed from the Newton area at aircraft, the man was not charged or associated directly with those incidents.

A hearing is scheduled for March 25 in Newton District Court.

From the Boston Globe

Australia: Lasers aimed at drivers; perpetrators warned

Green laser beams, thought to be from one or more youths, were aimed at truck drivers and at police following up on telephoned reports, in Boambee East, New South Wales on May 4 2013. The incidents occurred around 10:30 pm. Police warned that perpetrators could face a fine of up to AUS $5000 if they have lasers above 1 milliwatt in public without a valid reason.

From the Coffs Coast Advocate

UK: Laser aimed at ambulance driver in Plymouth

A laser was aimed at an ambulance driver in the Keyham section of Plymouth, on September 5 2012. He had no apparent injury or effect from the lasing, and did not stop due to transporting a patient.

He told police that youths carried out the lasing. Police searched the area but did not find any suspects.

From
This Is Plymouth

US: UPDATED - Calif. woman arrested for pointing laser at fire engine

A woman was arrested for pointing a laser at a fire truck that was responding to a call, and then again as they returned to the fire house on June 30 2012. Irene Marie Levy, 31, of San Jacinto, California was charged with pointing a laser at a moving vehicle. She was also charged with violating her probation on a previous conviction of making fake bomb threats and interfering with emergency radio dispatches in 2010. Bail in the laser incident was set at $25,000.

There was no reason given for Levy’s use of the laser pointer against the driver of the fire truck.

Irene Levy laser
Irene Marie Levy


From KABC and the Press-Enterprise

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2012: Levy was arrested on November 2 2012 for aiming a laser at a police cruiser, then at the sheriff’s department helicopter sent to investigate. More on this story is here.

US: Laser pointed at stranger's chest in Myrtle Beach

Two men in a car pointed a red laser at two intoxicated men waiting for a taxi, at about 2:45 am March 18 2012, according to a Myrtle Beach (SC) police report. One of the intoxicated men was “tagged in the chest” at a distance of about 100 feet by what they assumed was a gun with a laser sight. (They did not see a gun.) The car drove away before police arrived.

From
Myrtle Beach Online. Note that there have been many reports of laser pointer harassment and misuse against aircraft in Myrtle Beach. The town passed an ordinance in late September 2011, making it a misdemeanor to aim a laser at a person, animal or vehicle, and restricting possession by and sales to minors. A similar ordinance passed in nearby North Myrtle Beach.

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: We monitor news reports of laser misuse. One reason for this is to try to get an idea of the relative rate of events such as harassment of the public and of sports figures, aiming at automobiles, aiming at airplanes, etc. We see relatively few reports such as the one above, but have listed it as part of this coverage.
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US: Road rage laser in passenger's eyes, then bullets in car

In a road rage incident February 12 2012, four Cincinnati-area teenagers were targeted first by a laser that hit the front seat passenger in the eyes, then by bullets that shattered the window glass and hit one of the teens in the leg. Driver Grady Black said of the other car’s driver "He was in the right lane I was in the left lane and they flipped him off out of the window and the next thing you know he shined the laser into the car, we thought it was just a laser pointer and I hear the window shatter and I took off."

It turned out that the light was from a laser sight on the gun. The injured teenager, Kevin Boegeman, appears to be “alright all things considered.” The perpetrator has not been found as of February 13.

From WKRC Cincinnati

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: We monitor news reports of laser misuse. One reason for this is to try to get an idea of the relative rate of events such as harassment of the public and of sports figures, aiming at automobiles, aiming at airplanes, etc. We see relatively few reports such as the one above, but have listed it as part of this coverage.
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US: Road rage results from laser aimed into motorist's mirror

From the Carlisle, Pennsyslvania police log:

“No one was injured in a crash in the parking lot of Papa John’s on Hanover Street at 2:27 p.m. Dec. 29 [2011]. Paul B. Matter, 23, of Carlisle told police that he attempted to prevent Derek Pospisil, 30, of Carlisle from leaving the parking lot because Pospisil had been shinning a laser pointer into Matter’s mirrors while they were driving down the road earlier. Pospisil did not stop when Matter blocked his path. No one was charged because the parking lot is private property.”

Via The Sentinel

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: We monitor news reports of laser misuse. One reason for this is to try to get an idea of the relative rate of events such as harassment of the public and of sports figures, aiming at automobiles, aiming at airplanes, etc. We see relatively few reports such as the one above, but have listed it as part of this coverage.
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US: Man points gun with laser sight in New Hampshire road rage incident

In what police describe as a road rage incident, a driver on Interstate 93 in Sanbornton, New Hampshire pointed a handgun with a laser sight at another driver. 48-year-old John Spyros Privolos, a Massachusetts resident, was arrested in the December 29 2011 incident. A handgun with a grip-activated laser sight was found in Privolos’ possession.

John Spyros Privolos laser
Charged with driving without a valid license, and criminal threatening


From
WMUR TV

US: Drunk arrested on Christmas Eve for lasing police car

On Christmas Eve 2011, an apparently intoxicated man repeatedly aimed a green laser pointer at a police officer sitting in his parked patrol car at the Southington (Connecticut) fire department headquarters. The officer initially thought the green light was from a traffic signal changing. He then saw a green dot on the windshield and realized it was from a laser pointer across the street. Backup was called in, and 35-year-old Kevin R. King was identified as the perpetrator.

King said he was “kidding around” while demonstrating the laser to friends. He was given a $75 ticket for shining a laser pointer to harass or alarm. A court date of January 13 was set for Bristol Superior Court.

From MyRecordJournal.com and Southington Patch

Australia: Qld teens aim laser at car, then fire shots

Three male teenagers were arrested for shining a laser into a driver’s eyes, then firing gunshots into the car. News reports did not say whether the laser was a sight on the weapon, or whether it was a separate device.

The incident occurred December 13 2011 in Beenleigh, about 35 km south of Brisbane, Queensland. The targeted driver was not injured but the rear window of the car was shattered.

An 18-year-old faces fifteen charges, a 16-year-old faces five charges, and a 15-year-old faces sixteen charges. A press account from Nine News listing some of the charges did not list any that were laser-specific.

From Nine News

US: Drivers in Pa. lased by two teens

Two teenagers in a vehicle were arrested December 2 2011 for aiming a green laser pointer at cars in Myerstown, Pennsylvania (about midway between Harrisburg and Reading). Police were called to the scene by motorists; the responding state police trooper was hit in the eyes by the teens. Nicolo P. Vivona, 19, and William E. Eckart III, 18, were charged with recklessly endangering another person, harassment, and disorderly conduct.

From ABC27 and Reading Eagle

Northern Ireland: Youths aim laser pen at drivers

A group of youths aimed a laser pen at motorists in Limavady, near Derry, on November 8 2011. A bus driver “averted his gaze and managed to avoid damage to his eyes.” Another man hit said “my car had a green laser aimed at it, but thankfully the laser reflected off the body work. It did, however, still alter the clarity of vision so I can appreciate how extremely dangerous a laser aimed at drivers could be.”

Police are searching for the perpetrators.

From the Derry Journal

US: 90 days for Washington state man who used a blue 1 watt laser on an officer

Daniel P. McBride, 32, of Cosmopolis, Washington, was sentenced on October 24 2011 to 90 days in jail for second-degree unlawful discharge of a blue 1-watt Wicked Lasers Spyder III Arctic laser. The incident happened in January 2011 during a traffic stop in Montesano. McBride had also been charged with assaulting an officer; that charge was dropped in a plea bargain agreement.

As part of the sentence, the judge ordered that McBride continue mental therapy even after he completes his sentence.

Original story from KXRO Newsradio. Remainder of story pieced together from searching “laser” at the Daily World paid website.
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Canada: RCMP looking for person aiming a laser at motorists

Royal Canadian Mounted Police are looking for “a person in a motor vehicle who was shining a laser pointer into the eyes of drivers in approaching vehicles.” The incident happened on September 26 2011, in Comox Valley, British Columbia.

The RCMP said the person could be criminally charged if apprehended.

From Canada.com

UK: Laser pen aimed at vehicles and plane

A green laser was aimed at motorists near Witney, 12 miles west of Oxford, at about the same time that a commercial aircraft reported a green laser as it flew over Witney. Police are searching for the persons involved in the incidents.

Police received several calls that a group of people in a silver people carrier was shining a green laser on the A40 near Witney, at about 8 p.m on September 15 2011. Police also were contacted by air traffic control staff after an aircraft was targeted with a green laser at 8 p.m. The police declined to release details of the flight or its effect, if any, on the flight until statements had been taken from the pilots and crew. The fine for aiming at aircraft is up to £2,500.

From the Witney Gazette. This news item is being cross-posted in on the News/Aviation incidents page as well.

Australia: Driver has eye injury for days after laser attack

A driver in a Perth suburb suffered damage to his left eye, after a green laser beam was aimed through his windshield on August 28 2011. Anthony Zuvela said “I couldn’t see out of my left eye and my eye was burning…it was a very frightening experience.” He went for tests which showed that no permanent damage was done, although he was to stay away from bright light: “All Sunday and half of Monday, I wasn’t allowed to drive or go outside. I had to stay indoors in darkness and had a patch on my left eye.” He said the pressure behind his eye and itchiness lasted for days.

As of September 15, police have not found the perpetrator. There was a crackdown in the state of Western Australia in 2009. It is illegal to “cause fear or alarm in a driver by directing a laser pointer at a vehicle.” The penalty can be up to seven years in jail and an AUS $36,000 fine.

From InMyCommunity.com

US: Calif. report of laser pointer aimed at cars

A brief report in the Ukiah, CA police log: “TEEN WITH LASER POINTER -- Caller at the corner of South State and Gobbi streets reported at 8:40 p.m. Saturday that two young girls were walking on East Gobbi Street and one had a laser pointer that she was pointing at passing cars.”

From the Ukiah Daily Journal

Note: LaserPointerSafety.com is listing this incident as part of our coverage of non-aviation laser misuse. Because we see relatively few reports of laser attacks on vehicles, we list even minor reports like this one, for completeness.

US: Philly man, 41, arrested for aiming at police cruiser

A 41-year-old North Philadelphia man was arrested July 2 2011, after aiming a laser pointer at a passing police officer in a squad car. The officer was on a backup call in the Fairhill area when he saw a “blinding light” that “caused him to slam on the brakes.” Francisco Gonzalez-Rosado was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

From Philly.com

Greece: UK teen stabbed to death after laser pen harassment

A 19-year-old British citizen, on holiday in Greece, was stabbed and killed by a taxi driver angry after the teen and his friends aimed lasers at the driver.

Robert Sebbage and his friends had been shining lasers at taxis waiting in line outside a nightclub. The teens were rushed by two angry taxi drivers, brandishing a knife and a baseball bat. Sebbage was killed; Jordan Manson, 18, was taken to a hospital where he was operated on for stab wounds to the chest and neck. Three other teens were also taken to the hospital, with less serious injuries.

Taxi driver Stelios Morfis, 21, was charged with premeditated murder. A second driver was also arrested as an accomplice.

The stabbing happened in a resort town, Laganas, located on the Greek island of Zakynthos (Zante). The Telegraph noted that “in Laganas, the antics of young British tourists on ‘non-stop party’ holiday packages have provoked growing criticism from the Greek authorities and local residents.”

From The Telegraph. Thanks to Dr. Phil Tyley, Laser Safety Advisor, Senior Scientist, QinetiQ for bringing this to our attention.

UPDATE July 18 2011: Jordan Manson’s parents describe the attack to The Mirror.

Northern Ireland: Retinal injury claimed in ambulance illumination

An ambulance driver said he suffered a retinal burn from a laser attack. On June 11 2011, John Corr was driving in Belfast, taking a patient to a hospital. A car pulled alongside and aimed a laser at the ambulance, hitting Corr in the eye. He was temporarily blinded, so his colleague took over the driving. Corr later went to a specialist eye clinic at Royal Victoria Hospital where he was told he had a burn to his retina.

Corr characterized the incident as an assault, and said there should be a specific law to protect ambulance staff. The perpetrator has not been found.

From the Belfast Telegraph

Australia: Laser aimed near Sydney police car

A 16-year-old boy was arrested by police officers in a Sydney suburb after a laser beam was aimed onto the road near their vehicle. When apprehended, the teen was holding a laser pointer, and another pointer was in his pocket. Later at the Maroubra Police Station, he told investigators that he had a third pointer at his home.

He was released without charge pending further inquiries.

From a NSW Police Force press release

US: Pointing laser at cars leads to chase, tasering

On June 2 2011, an Indiana motorist saw another driver aiming a green laser pointer at road signs and cars. He called police, who were able to locate and stop the vehicle. The driver, Jason David Clark, 32, ran and was tasered after jumping a fence. Inside the car, police found the laser pointer, suspected cocaine, and a pistol with blank cartridges.

Clark was arrested on a previous outstanding warrant, and now faces additional charges of cocaine possession and resisting arrest. It appears that no charges were brought against his laser pointing actions.

From the
Post-Tribune (Gary, Indiana)

US: Motorist pulls over after laser attack

27-year-old Ryan S. McManus was charged with reckless endangerment, after repeatedly pointing a green laser at another driver, who at one point “swerved out of his lane and had to pull to the side of the road to avoid crashing.” The harassed driver followed McManus and called 911.

The incident took place in the small town of Greece, New York, in Monroe County. McManus will appear in Greece Town Court on May 25.

From the
Fairport - East Rochester Post and WHEC.com

Australia: Cars targeted in Melbourne

An unknown person targeted “a number of drivers” who said they were blinded by a laser pointer in the southeast section of Melbourne on May 3 2011. A constable said “We are very fortunate that there wasn't a collision as a result of this foolish behaviour.” There was no information about whether the laser user was stationary or was also driving.

From the Sydney Morning Herald

Australia: Bus driver has eye injury from passing motorist

A passing motorist aimed a laser at a Sydney bus driver, temporarily blinding his right eye. He “was forced to brake heavily to avoid colliding with a concrete barrier.”

News reports said the driver was “in visible pain.” A photo showed the driver on his stopped bus, holding his eye. He told paramedics he had “disturbed vision”. He was taken to Sydney Hospital and was released the next day, Saturday March 12 2011.

Police are looking for the perpetrator.

From the
Sunday Telegraph

US: Motorist chased, arrested after lasing other cars

San Antonio police arrested a man who had been illuminating drivers with a laser pointer on March 15 2011.

The man was signaled to pull over by a plainclothes officer. He sped up instead and led the officer on a short chase through downtown. He was charged with drug possession and aggravated assault of a public servant.

From
KENS 5 TV

Italy: Lasers pointed at motorists

Italian motorists passing under a bridge on SS194, the Modica Pozzalo, have been “bombarded with beams of laser light”, according to the Ragusa News. “Heavy penalties are now at risk” for those involved.

From Ragusa News (in Italian)

US: Laser pointer used against cars

Three men were arrested for shining a green laser pointer at motorists on the New York State Thruway, in Brutus (Cayuga County, NY). The men were in a truck and were arrested at a rest stop after “troopers received reports from other motorists.”

The men were charged with disorderly conduct.

From the
Syracuse Post-Standard

Scotland: Car driver distracted by green laser

The driver of an automobile reported being distracted by a green laser in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Scotland according to police. They appealed for anyone with information to contact them.

More details at the BBC News website.

US: Boy charged for shining laser at drivers

A Lake Forest Road boy faces charges for shining a green laser beam at motorists, including a Bay Village patrol officer. [Bay Village is in Ohio, 15 miles west of Cleveland.]

A motorist first called police at 9:40 p.m. Feb. 7, saying he had just seen a green laser beam in his car. He waited for police and pointed to the house where the light had come from. Officers talked to the home owner, who said his sons had a green laser. The boys denied shining the light at traffic. Police told the brothers not to shine the light at cars and searched their bedroom, but didn't find the laser.

About 7:30 p.m. the following evening, an officer on routine patrol was blinded by a green laser beam coming from a passing car. The patrolman stopped the car. It held one of the boys who has been warned the day before. The boy denied having the laser, but it was eventually turned over to police. Charges are pending, Chief David Wright said in a news release.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer