The Ocean City Police Department arrested a 21-year-old Gloucester County man for directing a laser pointer at a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter Tuesday night.
Eric J. Bouda of Mantua Township was charged with interference of transportation, police said in a release from the Ocean City Police Department. He was arrested along the Boardwalk near 8th Street, after he pointed a green laser he had purchased at a local store for $30 over the ocean, police said.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station in Atlantic City was performing hoist training with a TowBoatUS crew about two miles off the Ocean City beach when they spotted the green laser, Coast Guard officials said in a release. The crew alerted the local department,
The items are not merely a toy. Laser pointers can cause serious effects to a pilot's vision, officials said. When these situations occur aircrew members are taken off flight duty for a minimum of 24 hours and must have their eyes dilated and be cleared by a doctor before flying again, officials said.
Laser pointers can also cause the pilot to see a glare, afterimage, have flash blindness or can even cause temporary loss of night vision, officials said. A pilot must abort his mission if his vision is compromised while in flight, officials said.
The release did not state if Tuesday's flight was compromised due to the incident.
The Food and Drug Administration - which regulates the manufacture of green laser pointers - said the green pointers may cause permanent eye damage, officials said.
"Educating the public on how detrimental lasers can be to our aircrews is key. Pointing lasers at aircraft jeopardizes the safety of the Coast Guard and commercial airliners and needs to be stopped," said Capt. Nicholas Bartolotta, commanding officer Air Station Atlantic City in a release.
Federal Aviation Administration records show that 14 aircraft near Atlantic City International Airport were pinpointed with recreational laser pointers in 2010 - with Ocean City the source of most of those incidents.
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