Posted: Dec 28, 2012 6:11 PM by Jessica Holley - firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: Dec 28, 2012 8:25 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI - To a pilot, it's a blinding flash of light. While they are a useful tool laser pointers also pose a dangerous threat to those who navigate the skies. Thursday night, 20-year old John David Lopez and 21-year old Joshua Vela of Alice were pulled over on the 300 block of Highway 44 by Robstown police, after a Halo Flight pilot reported seeing a laser while flying.
"It's very serious for our aircraft it could lead to temporary blindness to the pilot, to long term vision problems for the pilot," said Halo Flight Executive Director Tom Klassen.
When the laser was spotted the pilot immediately contacted police and followed the car that the laser was shinning from until police located Lopez and Vela. During police questioning-- both men admitted to shining a laser in the sky. This year Halo Flight reported three laser pointer attacks on their pilots, last year they reported none.
Klassen says each year the number of nationwide laser strikes on pilot grows.
"Ten years ago there were about 288 laser strikes, last year we had 3,500 laser strikes and it will be even more in 2012," said Klassen.
Halo Flight provides extensive training for all its pilots, including what to do if they fall victim to a laser while flying. Klassen says his pilot followed protocol by alerting authorities immediately.
"We were fortunate enough to not have a patient on board and could assist authorities," said Klassen.
The FBI is now looking into whether or not they will press charges. If charged, Lopez and Vela could face up to 5 years in prison.
Do you have a tip, information about a breaking news story, or a story idea for 6 Investigates? Contact the KRIS 6 News Desk at 361-884-6666 or send us an email.
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