Forget aircraft – now cretins are laser-blinding ferry boat crewmen

Gadget-grasping goon gets $9,500 fine and jail time

The Washington State Ferry service, on the US west coast, appears to have some high-tech enemies: a series of laser attacks have been fired at pilots on the craft that serve Seattle's Elliott Bay and the surrounding locales.

On New Year's Eve the captain and the first mate of the ferry Tacoma were temporarily unsighted when some miscreant fired a powerful laser directly at the cabin. The green laser, a more powerful model than the keyring devices that so bemuse cats, thankfully didn't cause any serious damage.

"It was pretty disruptive, a little disorienting," North Region Port Captain Jay Mooney told KIRO7. "They were disoriented – it kind of filled up the whole entire wheelhouse with a really bright green light."

They were lucky. In a previous incident, the captain of a ferry and his first mate suffered permanent retinal burns after local resident Mark Raden thought it would be a hoot to laser them. Raden was traveling on another ferry when he lased the bridge of the Tokitae ferry last October.

Raden, who the local Coast Guard said has a history of lasering incidents, is currently cooling his heels in the local jail after pleading guilty to reckless endangerment. He was fined $9,500 and given 15 days in jail. In addition, he has to pay the captain and chief mate $3,740.89 for their injuries and perform 240 hours of community service.

"Interfering with the safe operation of a vessel, particularly a large passenger vessel, endangers all of those on board and can also result in significant environmental impacts, said Cmdr Darwin Jensen, US Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound chief of prevention.

"This one person's irresponsible actions could have had a much more tragic outcome for the passengers of the Tokitae, as the vessel was preparing to arrive in Clinton. The Coast Guard will pursue appropriate criminal or civil enforcement actions against anyone who interferes with the safe operation of vessels."

The growth in the handheld laser market has led to a large number of such incidents, although typically aircrafts are the target for the anti-social little scrotes who use the devices against humans. In 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration warned that more than 5,352 incidents were recorded and the numbers are rising.

Such laser strikes are extremely dangerous, particularly if the aircraft is coming in for landing. Nevertheless, people insist on doing it, despite fines of up to $250,000 and possible sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

A Washington State coast guard officer told The Reg that the danger of laser strikes against ferries was a growing problem. So far no serious injuries had occurred, but you have to wonder what twisted fun these laser-wielding morons think they are having. ®




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