A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

Australia: NSW man avoids conviction for shining laser pointer in public place

A man who owned a laser pointer for two days, was arrested after aiming it on an administration building in the Wollongong (New South Wales) train station.

On May 21 2016 Anthony Vella, 20, was trying out a laser pointer purchased as a gift for him by his brother, to see how far the light was visible. Two transport command police officers saw the laser being used, and charged Vella with using a laser pointer in a public place. They also confiscated the pointer. In testing, they noted that the laser dot was “clearly visible” on a wall 500 meters away.

On July 26 2016 Vella pleaded guilty. His lawyer said Vella was not aware that use of a laser pointer in a public place was illegal.

The judge ruled that Vella broke the law but did not record a criminal conviction due to Vella’s prior good character and lack of malicious intent.

From the Illawarra Mercury

US: Railroad engineer wins $5.6M verdict; laser pointer peripherally involved

An Amtrak engineer was awarded $5.6 million on December 5 2014 by a jury who found the railroad company negligent for a situation that led to the man’s beating by a street gang. An unspecified part of the liability was assigned to a laser pointer incident.

On April 16 2007, Jacob Keating stopped his train to get a trespasser off the tracks. A group of gang members attacked Keating and the train’s conductor with rocks. The jury found Amtrak negligent, as they did not provide a safe work environment. The area had been known to the company as “a party place” for years; Amtrak did not repair a fence or put up lighting to reduce trespassing.

According to the Sacramento Bee, “Along with the beating, the panel also held Amtrak liable for an incident in 2010, after Keating had returned to work, when someone in West Sacramento flashed a laser pointer into his engine compartment. Keating testified that he thought he was about to be shot and that the laser flash ignited a new round of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Jurors assigned 6% of the blame to Keating, and 94% to Amtrak.

From the Sacramento Bee

US: Calif. train crew reports laser pointer

A train crew reported that a laser pointer was aimed at the head of a train in Martinez, California, a town about 23 miles northeast of San Francisco. The incident happened about 1:15 am on December 27 2013. Police did not find the perpetrators.

From the Martinez (Ca.) News-Gazette

Switzerland: Train driver hit by laser beam, replaced; attacks increasingly common

The driver of an SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen) intercity train traveling from Geneva to St. Gallen was flashed by a laser pointer in Thurgau. The train was stopped in Wil, St. Gallen, where passengers were told the engineer had been hit by a laser. A replacement engineer was brought in after a prolonged stoppage, to continue the journey.

An SBB spokesperson says in the past two years, laser attacks have been mounting. A spokesperson for St. Gallen police said such attacks also occur on helicopter pilots, and air rescue units have been equipped with laser eye protection goggles.

From 20 Minuten (original German text and Google-translated English text)

UK: UPDATED - Train stops, driver goes to hospital, after laser pen attack

A train was forced to stop, and the driver was hospitalized, after a green laser pen was shone into his eyes. The February 9 2012 incident happened at 9:30 pm in the White City area, on the 8:41 pm First Great Western train from Bristol Temple Meads to Worcester Shrub Hill. The train stopped at Gloucester, where the driver was treated by paramedics and was taken to hospital. Passengers transferred to another train.

A police spokesman said the laser light “not
only distracted the driver and potentially damaged his eye, but it also could have had serious safety consequences for the passengers. The driver's attention was averted from his job of safely controlling the train…. He is currently awaiting the results of medical assessments on his eye and is in some degree of pain. We are hopeful he'll make a full recovery but, at this stage, he is in some discomfort."

Police are asking for assistance in finding two youths seen on a footbridge off Southfield Road in White City.

From this is Gloucestershire and BBC News Gloucestershire

UPDATE February 14 2012: The train driver “is recovering and should return to work next week”, according to a spokesperson for First Great Western quoted by BBC News Gloucestershire. The story also said that there had been six laser-train incidents on the FGW network from January 2011 through February 14 2012, and that the February 9 incident had the most serious impact on the driver.

UK: Laser aimed at train driver near Gainsborough station

A green laser was aimed at a train driver near Gainsborough railway station on October 14 2011. It came from a housing development near Marshalls Rise, just outside the station. The driver was distracted by the laser light, and subsequent trains were placed on caution which caused delays.

Officers searched for suspects but did not find anyone. British Transport Police warn the public against misuse of laser pens.

From
Rail.co

Switzerland: Train driver flashblinded by laser pointer

A train driver was temporarily blinded when someone flashed a laser pointer in his eyes. The driver stopped the train and went to the hospital. His eye condition is unknown.

The incident took place September 11 2011 at the Lausen train station, in the Swiss canton of Basel Country.

Police called for witnesses and issued a reminder that Class 3 and 4 laser pointers are considered dangerous by law. Sales of Class 3 and 4 lasers are illegal. Currently, owning or using them is not illegal, but a modification of the law is underway.

From World Radio Switzerland

UK: Youths sentenced for train attack

20-year-old Philip Pearse was sentenced to six months in a young offenders' institute, and an unnamed 16-year-old was made to serve 140 hours of community punishment, after shining red lasers at trains as they pulled into Newport station in South Wales. They were convicted on two charges of endangering the safety of railway passengers.

Drivers Michael Jonah and Timothy Reiffer suffered temporary blindness, but managed to bring their trains safely to a halt.

Cardiff Crown Court was told that the safety of hundreds of commuters was jeopardised and the cost of the disruption was put at £13,000.Click to read more...