Man Gets 2 Years in Jail for Pointing Laser at News Chopper
A Portland, OR man will spend up to 2 years in jail for pointing a laser at a TV news station chopper, blinding the pilot and cameraman for nearly a full minute.
According to court proceedings, 25-year-old Fernando Garces of Portland was driving near the Burnside Bridge in Portland November 9, 2016. There was some sort of protest taking place, that resulted in stop and go traffic.
While sitting still, waiting, Garces aimed a green laser pointer directly at the front windscreen of a KGW-TV news chopper that was hovering low over the bridge, filming the protestors. Prosecutors said the laser illuminated the interior of the chopper, blinding the pilot. It also caused the same effect for the cameraman, who was operating a camera in the back.
The pilot had to turn the chopper several times to get into a position where he could see where he was. Finally, after nearly a minute, the pilot and cameraman were able to fully regain their field of view, according to KNDU-TV.
The charges and sentence were severe because the pilot had to take evasive action to 'dodge' the laser, because he lost vision, and it could have caused the chopper pilot to lose control.