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Coast Guard helicopter responding to distress call hit by laser

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 7:01 a.m. HST, Nov 27, 2013

The Coast Guard said one of its helicopters was hit by a green laser while flying in the vicinity of Waimanalo Bay Saturday.

It's the fifth lasing incident within the last year involving Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point.

The lased MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew was conducting a search in response to a distress call when the incident occurred, the Coast Guard said.

Four crewmembers observed the laser sweeping the aircraft and one of the pilots was struck directly.

The Coast Guard is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Honolulu Police Department to investigate the incident.

Laser pointers can cause glare, afterimage, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision.

The Coast Guard said it is a federal crime, as well as violation of most states' laws, to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft. If an individual is caught purposefully lasing an aircraft, punishment ranges from being arrested or having to pay a civil penalty of $11,000 for a single offense, to more than $30,000 if the individual has multiple offenses.

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