The Coast Guard is seeking information from the public in locating a suspect or suspects who pointed a blue laser light at a Station Seattle boatcrew conducting search and rescue operations Monday night near Point Wells.
The crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium initially reported they were fit to complete their assigned search and reported no immediate injuries from the laser strike. However, several minutes later, multiple crew members reported experiencing pain and discomfort in their eyes as a result of the exposure.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received the initial report from the Station Seattle crew that a blue laser struck the response boat’s cabin. The laser strike reportedly came from the general vicinity of the Point Wells area.
“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.”
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.
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/