Ocean City, NJ To Ban Sale Of Laser Pointers

OCEAN CITY, NJ (CBS) — Ocean City, New Jersey is set to become one of the first towns in our area to ban the sale of certain types of laser pointers over fears one could catastrophically damage an aircraft.

On Thursday night, City Council will take up an ordinance banning the more powerful – usually green-colored – laser pointers. Right now, police say they can be bought at a dozen or more boardwalk shops.

“It’s dangerous to aircraft. It’s dangerous to any type of vehicle,” said Ocean City Police Captain Steven Ang. “If you shine this in the operator’s eyes, it can temporarily blind them, it can permanently blind them.”

Ben Simmoneau reports…

Capt. Ang says there have been 14 laser incidents involving aircraft in the Ocean City area over the past year. Just this month, Eric Bouda, 21, of Mantua, N.J. was arrested and fined for shining a laser at a Coast Guard helicopter on a training mission just off the coast.

The Federal Aviation Administration says that was the fourth incident in and around Ocean City in 2011.

Police asked boardwalk shops to stop selling the lasers last year but found them again in shops this summer. Now, they’re asking City Council to make their sale illegal.

“It can actually cause an aircraft to crash,” said Capt. Ang.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Justin Perez knows the dangers of laser pointers in helicopters firsthand. He says he was on a training mission over Ventnor in February when someone shined a laser pointer into his helicopter cabin. As a flight mechanic, he sits directly behind the pilots.

“I saw it with my naked eye, and it was flashing right up on the ceiling,” he said. “They were just tracking us, like they were following us.”

Because of the danger to the eyes, if a laser beam hits any helicopter crewmember, they must immediately abort their mission and return to base at the Atlantic City airport.

In the event of a search or rescue, that could have deadly consequences. The Coast Guard helicopters based in Atlantic City patrol the waters from Maryland to New York and make about 50 rescues a year.

“We’re out there trying to save a life, and we can’t complete our mission,” said Perez. “It’s going to take much longer to get another crew back out there.”

Getting hit by a laser also makes the pilot or crew members ineligible to fly for at least 24 hours while their eyes are dilated and checked.

Police Captain Ang says he knows stopping the sale only in Ocean City is a small step, because the lasers are widely available on the internet. But, he says, it could save a life.

Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS3

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One Comment

  1. Joe Coastie says:

    Coast Guard rescue helicopters use very sensitive night vision devices to magnify all available light. If we can see a cigarette lighter at 5 miles what do you think a laser pointer will do to our eye sight? Do the research before you make an uninformed comment. We’re out there trying to save your life or maybe that of one of your family members. Think about it.

  2. Dr. Evil says:

    What about sharks with freckin laser beams? I choose to stay away from the oceans, I am headed to the poconos

  3. OC Local says:

    Who cares about blindness! It’s effing annoying!!!!!

  4. Mrfreeze says:

    The lasers sold legally, are under 10mw and would not cause any blindness unless you continually held it pointed in your eye for several minutes.

    This story and the public reaction is based on ignorance and myths

    1. Mrfreeze says:

      Correction…under 5mw

  5. stix213 says:

    Has a laser pointer ever in the history of both lasers and aviation, ever caused the crash of an aircraft or permanent blindness of a pilot?

  6. Rational says:

    No, he’s right. The power the cheap laser pointers have that are sold at the beach are not strong enough to damage someone’s eyes, ESPECIALLY from such distances. It’s tested physics that the media ignores.

  7. person says:

    “Because of the danger to the eyes, if a laser beam hits any helicopter crewmember, they must immediately abort their mission and return to base at the Atlantic City airport. In the event of a search or rescue, that could have deadly consequences.”

    …Well that’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

    1. kay says:

      Don’t you realize that if the mission is a rescue mission and it is aborted due to laser beam the people waiting for rescue will have to wait until another crew can be readied and sent? Hours could pass and during that time anything could happen to the people waiting to be rescued. “Deadly consequences” is certainly accurate.

    2. David Maddon says:

      yea I like blind people flying helicopters.

  8. sim says:

    This is all nonsense. No cheapo pointer is going to blind anyone. Why is it that the airlines (and pilots) insist that the physics we enjoy here on earth no longer functions at 10K ft?

    1. albert911emt says:

      You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about.

      1. MIT2013 says:

        No, YOU sir have no idea what you’re talking about.

  9. rmsbl4 says:

    Very por reporting. The laser will not make an aircraft crash in itself. The damage is done to the pilots which in turn could lead to a crash. The way everything is worde is that a person coud then drive by any airport and then destroy any and all aircraft they wanted.
    Report the TRUE danger is to the pilots

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