Shooting lasers at aircrafts becoming growing problem - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Shooting lasers at aircrafts becoming growing problem

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Officer Cary Hirtzel, LMPD pilot Officer Cary Hirtzel, LMPD pilot
Air 20, the Louisville Metro Police Department helicopter. Air 20, the Louisville Metro Police Department helicopter.
Assistant Chief Kenton Buckner Assistant Chief Kenton Buckner
Mary Troutman, FBI Kentucky Mary Troutman, FBI Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – When he pointed a laser at a police helicopter, Jeffry Ledington could have been responsible for not only the death of two pilots, but everyone below. The laser caused the helicopter crew to suffer a temporary vision loss. Louisville Metro Police said what Ledington did is becoming a growing problem.

Cary Hirtzel was flying Air 20 on Sunday when he realized someone was shining a laser into the cockpit.

"I came around, the whole cockpit lit up green," said Hirtzel. "I couldn't see anything but green as we came around. It's basically like if you're in a darkened room and someone takes a flash photography picture of you."

LMPD Assistant Chief Kenton Buckner said it's not a joke, but a serious crime.

"This is a very serious offense when you think of the hazard this could it potentially cause to the pilots," said Buckner, "as well as the passengers in that aircraft, and the unknowing public that is beneath."

It's become such a problem a federal statute has been passed on the issue.

"That specifically makes it difficult to point a laser at an aircraft; it has a very large fine attached to it," said Mary Troutman, a legal advisor for the FBI Kentucky office. "Just this year to date, from the beginning of the year 2,750 incidents have been reported."

Ledington is charged with two counts of wanton endangerment. If convicted, the crime can carry a five year sentence and a $250,000 fine.

"This is a crime that we believe is 100 percent preventable and unnecessary," Buckner said.

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