Coast Guard chopper on search mission hit with laser

SAN DIEGO - A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter on a search and rescue mission was struck by a green laser this weekend.

The chopper was flying north, about a quarter-mile off the coast of Blacks Beach near La Jolla, when the pilot suddenly told the crew to turn away because the helicopter had been struck by a green laser.

Aviation expert Glen Winn told 10News a laser can have serious consequences by interfering with a pilot’s flying ability. It can also cause blindness and blurred vision, not just for the pilot but the entire crew. At the time all were wearing night vision goggles, which magnify the laser.

“Laser affects the cornea and the pupil of your eye, and its instant. It could cause a crash, you know, it’s just that quick,” Winn said.

The flight had been in search of flare sighting off the coast and a possible person in need of rescue. It continued on its mission after the pilot reported he was fine.

The rescue swimmer, flight mechanic and copilot all had to turn their heads to avoid catching the green flash.

Police were called to Blacks Beach to search for the person behind the laser. The investigation is on-going. Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a felony.

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