A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Man charged with assault for aiming laser at state trooper who was driving

On April 14 2017, a Michigan State Police trooper driving on his way to a crash had a laser aimed at him. The trooper’s partner was able to identify a male suspect who was taken into custody.

On April 17 state police announced that Jonathan Edward Rayner was arrested and a laser pointer was retrieved. Rayner had been a passenger in another car on the highway. The 32-year-old man was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, and with “assaulting-resisting-obstructing a police officer.” Both assault charges are felonies. The maximum penalty is four years in prison on the dangerous weapon charge, and 20 years in prison for assaulting a police officer.

Jonathan Edward Rayner laser
Jonathan Edward Rayner


The incident happened on eastbound Interstate 94 in Wayne County at about 8 pm. The trooper was taken to a hospital “with vision problems and headache.” Later that day, state police tweeted “His vision has returned and he has been cleared. Other than a serious headache he should be back to work.”

From two tweets by Michigan State Police Metro Detroit, as initially reported in
ClickOnDetroit.com. Announcement of the suspect’s name and the charges from the Detroit News, Fox 2 Detroit and the Morning Sun. Thanks to David Bothner for bringing this to our attention.

US: Multi-car crash due to laser being aimed at driver

A woman driving on Interstate 5 in Oregon was dazzled by a green laser beam aimed by the driver of another car. This led to a three-car crash causing body damage to the vehicles. There were no reported injuries due to the crash or the laser light.

The accident occurred at about 5:30 am on October 25 2016. Miranda Senters, 18, was driving her new car, bought one week prior, when the driver in front of her aimed a green laser beam over his shoulder towards her. Senters told KGW News “I just kept going back and forth a little bit, trying to keep out of the light.” The laser driver then went behind Senters’ car and aimed into the rear-view mirror: “…he’s shining it from the back of me into my eyes and I couldn’t see.”

Senters tried to get away but the other driver weaved in and out of lanes to keep up with her. While trying to avoid the light, Senters swerved to the shoulder and spun out. The other car crashed into her. A third driver hit a barrier when trying to avoid the stopped vehicles.

The laser car, an older Honda Civic, left the scene. In an Instagram post, state police asked the public to help them find the Civic.

laser car crash Oregon i-5 I5 Senter
State police photo showing Senters’ car with driver side damage, at the scene on Interstate 5.


Senters later told KPTV “He had a little laser and was trying to get it through my front window. I went blind because a green laser light — like my eyes still hurt from that, I can still see it…. I don’t understand how it’s a joke. It could have killed me.”

From KGW and KPTV. Thank you to George Palikaras for bringing this to our attention.

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: This is the first well-documented case we’re aware of where a laser pointer aimed at a driver directly caused a crash. There was a fatal crash in 1998 which was partially blamed on a laser pointer, and an indirect reference to a three-car accident in 1999. There have also been a number of near-accidents and other car-related laser incidents which are listed here.

US: Fatal Calif. car accident partially blamed on laser pointer

The following text in blue is from an Associated Press report dated Wednesday, December 30 1998:

Laser May Have Caused Calif. Crash

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) - Authorities detained a man accused of weaving in and out of
traffic at nearly 100 mph and shining a laser pointer, leading to a five-car wreck that
killed four teen-agers.

The California Highway Patrol would not say Tuesday night whether Scott Davis, 34, had been arrested. He crashed through a glass window of a San Jose home as authorities arrived to question him, Oakland TV station KTVU reported.

Davis was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, but a hospital spokeswoman would not comment.

Davis is believed to be the driver of a car that was speeding on Highway 101 late Monday. Witnesses said the driver was shining a laser pointer into other cars before the vehicle collided with a pickup, leading to the pileup.

All four occupants of one car - Charo Ursua, 19, Kevin Owens, 16, Janette Alvarado, 15,
and Michael Zaches, 17 - were killed.

Law enforcement officials partially blamed the accident on the laser pointer, made as an aid for business presentations and teachers. The Food and Drug Administration warned a year ago that the pointers could be more damaging to the eyes than staring at the sun.


A separate SFGate article, still available online as of February 2016, stated: “CHP [California Highway Patrol] investigators were trying to find out what role, if any, the laser pointer may have played in the crash. The pointers shine a bright dot and can cause a momentary loss of vision. ‘That's what's been going on with these laser lights with this craze the past six months,’ the CHP's DiSalvo said. ‘A lot of people use them to try to put fear in other people. . . . Some guns have these laser lights.’

US: Bronx bus driver sees doctor after passenger aims red laser at him

A 52-year-old bus driver had a red laser beam shone in his eye by a passenger, on November 18 2015. The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority bus BX15 was on its route in the Bronx with about 25 passengers aboard when driver Kenneth Johnson saw a flash of red laser light that temporarily blinded him. He stopped the bus and the passengers — including the unknown person with the laser — got off.

Johnson went to a hospital and had an eye examination the next day. (No results were reported as of November 19.)

Because the bus has cameras, the video will be used to try to identify the perpetrator.

According to WABC, this is the first laser incident involving a New York City bus driver.

From WABC

Germany: Bus driver's eye injured by laser pointer aimed by child

An October 5 2015 report in the British Medical Journal Case Reports describes a public bus driver who suffered retinal injury due to a schoolboy aiming a red laser beam into a mirror on the bus, reflecting into the driver’s eyes.

Diagram of laser pointer on bus

The 44-year-old driver stared into the laser several times, as he tried to identify the person holding the laser. He suffered blurred vision in his right eye immediately after the exposure, but waited 6 months before having his first complete eye exam.

The exam showed “spot-like retinal pigment epithelium disturbances temporal to the fovea of the right eye, with no abnormalities in his left eye.” The authors stated that “The subjective complaints and objective ophthalmological findings of this patient were consistent and strongly suggested that the repetitive exposure of the eye to the reflected laser spot 6 months previously had caused subtle but detectable injury to the macula.”

The authors concluded with two “Learning points”:

  • “We suggest that no laser pointers of any class are made available to children, since they are unlikely to understand the risks of permanent retinal damage.”

  • “For the safety of users and the general public, even low-energy handheld laser pointers should not be sold to children.”

The authors did not identify the location of the incident, but it may be Germany since three of the four authors’ institutions were in Germany. Additional analysis and commentary is below (click the “Read More…” link).

From Thanos S, Böhm MRR, Meyer zu Hörste M, et al. “Retinal damage induced by mirror-reflected light from a laser pointer” BMJ Case Reports. Retrieved online: 2015 Nov 05, doi:10.1136/bcr-2015- 210311.
Click to read more...

US: Tennessee man "nearly causes accident' aiming laser pointer at cars on Interstate

A 34-year-old Chattanooga (TN) man was arrested for aiming a green laser pointer at vehicles on Interstate 75.

A motorist called 911 to report that a male in the front passenger seat of a silver Honda was shining the laser onto cars and trucks. The caller said the laser made it difficult to see, and almost caused a crash involving an 18-wheel truck and another vehicle. The Honda was traveling northbound on I-75 in Bradley County, east of Chattanooga.

Officers located the car, where Gary Dewayne Couey admitted aiming the laser at other vehicles. He was arrested on a charge of felony reckless endangerment. The driver of the car, 34-year-old Brandi Rapier, was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Gary Dewayne Couey laser
Gary Dewayne Couey


From WDEF, the Chattanoogan, and the Times Free Press

Canada: Laser pointer aimed at motorist causes near-accident

A July 6 2015 story in the Simco (Ontario) Reformer mentions a May 2015 incident where a driver nearly had an accident due to laser pointer blinding: “Norfolk OPP investigated a case in May where a laser pointer was directed into the eyes of a motorist, who then almost drove off the road….”

The July 6 story was about an air ambulance helicopter that was targeted by a laser on July 4. Police were searching for the perpetrator.

From the
Simcoe Informer. This item was of interest to LaserPointerSafety.com since we have heard of only a couple of reports where laser light caused a potential driving accident. As of July 6 2015, we have not heard of an actual accident caused by persons aiming laser light at vehicle drivers.

US: Florida man points laser at motorists, arrested, found with marijuana up his rear

A 27-year-old man was arrested on April 5 2015 for aiming a laser beam at motorists as he was driven by his girlfriend around Ormond Beach, Florida. When asked why she was being pulled over, driver Brandie Tate, 28, said “Because Jesse was shining the laser light at people and I told him not to.” Passenger Jesse Roepcke told police he did not know it was illegal to shine the light at people and “he was just having fun.”

Police found a smoking device on Roepke that later tested positive for cannabis. During a strip search of Roepcke at the jail, “a bag of a green leafy substance that smelled like marijuana fell out of his rectum.”

Jesse Roepcke laser marijuana
Jesse Roepcke


Roepke was charged with pointing a laser at a driver or pilot, possession or use of narcotic paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, and smuggling contraband into a prison.

From ClickOrlando.com and WFTV.com

US: 3-car accident in Springfield Missouri said to be caused by laser light

A case where laser light caused a vehicular accident is described in a February 23 1999 ordinance filed in Springfield, Missouri.

Ordinance 4880 has an attached “Explanation to Amended Council Bill No. 99-61” which gives some reasons for the city’s restrictions on laser use and possession. One of the “local abuses” cited is the following:

  • “Another offense includes a three-car collision, where a young man pointed a laser light into the car ahead of him and startled the driver, causing him to slam on his brakes and cause a pileup.”


Canada: Concern over driver distraction from laser pointers

On the heels of publicity over laser pointer interference with aircrews, a former worker in Alberta law enforcement warned about hazards to drivers as well.

Justin Crocker said he dealt with complaints from drivers in Alberta who were distracted by people in other vehicles misusing laser pointers. “I don’t think the should be in the general public,” he said. “It’s pretty distracting and it can almost cause an accident.”

According to Crocker, some of the vehicle lasing complaints led to criminal charges being filed.

From The Telegram

US: Man arrested for aiming laser at drivers

A 21-year-old was arrested February 26 2014 for aiming a green laser into cars the night before. The incidents occurred in Newton, Massachusetts.

The unnamed man was charged with disorderly conduct and with assault and battery. Although there were also two reports of a green laser being aimed from the Newton area at aircraft, the man was not charged or associated directly with those incidents.

A hearing is scheduled for March 25 in Newton District Court.

From the Boston Globe

US: Maine man aims fake gun with laser pointer at cars; is arrested

A 22-year-old Maine man was arrested January 11 2014 for aiming a replica gun, which emits a laser beam from the barrel, at passing motorists including a police officer.

Replica gun laser pointer
The replica gun, emitting a red laser beam, used to harass motorists.


The officer was on patrol in Kittery, a seaside town at the southern tip of Maine, when he saw a red laser beam in his cruiser. He then saw the beam on other vehicles as well.

The officer pulled up behind the car of Seth Christman, and arrested him. Christman was charged with criminal use of a laser pointer under Maine Title 17-A Sec. 1002-A. The Class D misdemeanor prohibits intentionally pointing a laser beam at a police officer or a “reasonable person” for the purpose of intimidating and attempting to harm.

Christman’s next hearing in York District Court is set for March 5 2014.

From SeacoastOnline

US: Man arrested for lasing a driver who suffers blurry vision

A driver had a laser beam aimed into his car about a dozen times, coming from another car. The beam hit the first driver’s inside rearview mirror and went into his right eye.

He contacted police, who were able to catch up with him and the other car. The first driver said he had blurry vision in his right eye and was going to follow up with his eye doctor.

The driver of the other car, Michael R. Fierke, 26, was found to have a “small package for a laser” on the front seat. Fierke was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

The incident occurred April 9 2013 in Downers Grove, Illinois, a village 22 miles west of Chicago.

From the Downers Grove Patch

Switzerland: Train driver hit by laser beam, replaced; attacks increasingly common

The driver of an SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen) intercity train traveling from Geneva to St. Gallen was flashed by a laser pointer in Thurgau. The train was stopped in Wil, St. Gallen, where passengers were told the engineer had been hit by a laser. A replacement engineer was brought in after a prolonged stoppage, to continue the journey.

An SBB spokesperson says in the past two years, laser attacks have been mounting. A spokesperson for St. Gallen police said such attacks also occur on helicopter pilots, and air rescue units have been equipped with laser eye protection goggles.

From 20 Minuten (original German text and Google-translated English text)

US: Angry teen aims laser at car, causing eye pain and flashblindness

A 19-year-old man was arrested August 2 2013 after he aimed a laser pointer at a car with five occupants, causing eye pain to one passenger and causing another to be temporarily blinded.

Trenton Demoor was angry because a coffee shop in Parkland, Washington refused him service at the drive-through window, because Demoor was on foot. He began screaming at employees. He then aimed a laser pointer at the car when the driver asked what the argument was about. Demoor yelled “You guys want to get shot?”, and then lased two of the passengers.

He was arrested on five counts of illegally discharging a laser and possession of methamphetamines. Bail was set at $30,000.

US: Motocross rider's brother said to aim laser pointer at rivals during race

A professional motocross organization issued fines totaling $15,500 plus additional penalties after the brother of competitor Mike Alessi was accused of aiming a green laser pointer into the eyes of his brother’s rivals just before a race began. The incident occurred July 20 2013 during the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, held in Washington state.

A video from the helmet cam of one of the targeted racers shows green flashes on his front visor, just before the starting gate drops. In addition, a photo taken at the same time shows a green glow above a distant spectator’s shoulder (circled in yellow below).

Pic 2013-07-31 at 5.52.25 PM

After the race, riders complained to MX Sports, the event organizer. Race personnel went through the crowd and soon found a retired pro racer with a green laser pointer in his hand.

Jeff Alessi initially denied the laser attack and tried to blame his girlfriend. A race official confiscated the laser and Alessi’s credentials which turned out to belong to his father. Later, an argument ensued which was captured on video, between Alessi and his father, and a journalist.

On July 22, MX Sports suspended Jeff Alessi’s eligibility and fined him $500. His father was suspended for the rest of the outdoor season. Alessi’s brother Mike, who competed in the disputed race, was fined $10,000 for the laser incident and $5,000 for transferring his father’s credentials to his brother.

The laser was described by MX Sports as “a powerful green laser pointer torch, capable of reaching considerable distance.”

Click to read more...

UK: Bus driver treated at hospital after laser pen attack

A bus driver in South Shields, in the northeast of England, had a green laser pen aimed into his eyes by a youth standing with a group of teens by the roadside. The driver, temporarily dazzled, said it was like looking at a very bright lightbulb. According to police, “The driver’s vision is now improving after hospital treatment, however, this was a potentially dangerous situation and could have caused a crash.” The South Shields Police are investigating to find the perpetrator of the July 12 2013 attack.

From the Shields Gazette

Australia: Lasers aimed at drivers; perpetrators warned

Green laser beams, thought to be from one or more youths, were aimed at truck drivers and at police following up on telephoned reports, in Boambee East, New South Wales on May 4 2013. The incidents occurred around 10:30 pm. Police warned that perpetrators could face a fine of up to AUS $5000 if they have lasers above 1 milliwatt in public without a valid reason.

From the Coffs Coast Advocate

Canada: B.C. driver said to have possible eye damage from green laser

A woman driving in the left lane on Highway 1 in Abbotsford, B.C., reported that she was passed on the right side by a grayish Audi. The Audi pulled in front of her and a male passenger stood up through the sunroof, spat on the workman’s windshield, then sat down and aimed a green laser through the back window at the woman. The Audi then sped off.

The RCMP said the woman may have suffered unspecified eye damage in the February 27 2013 assault. They asked for the public’s assistance in finding the female driver and male passenger of the Audi.

From The Province

UK: Laser aimed at ambulance driver in Plymouth

A laser was aimed at an ambulance driver in the Keyham section of Plymouth, on September 5 2012. He had no apparent injury or effect from the lasing, and did not stop due to transporting a patient.

He told police that youths carried out the lasing. Police searched the area but did not find any suspects.

From
This Is Plymouth

US: Teen issued a citation for lasing Myrtle Beach officer

Raymond Andrew Delossantos, a 19-year-old from Huntington, West Virginia was cited for aiming a laser pointer at a Myrtle Beach S.C. police officer on July 31, 2012. The teen was in a car traveling on a city road. Green laser light was being aimed out of the car. The light hit the officer in the eyes. He stopped the car; Delossantos admitted aiming the laser out the window. The device, estimated to cost $50, was confiscated and Delossantos was issued a citation.

From Myrtle Beach Online

US: California pre-teen stopped from pointing laser at cars

On July 12 2012, in the San Francisco bedroom community of Tracy, California, a 12-year-old boy was aiming a laser pointer from his roof, onto passing cars. Police were called; the boy’s mother took away his pointer and told the officers it would not happen again. The boy was released to his mother’s custody.

From the Tracy Press

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: We monitor news reports of laser misuse. One reason for this is to try to get an idea of the relative rate of events such as harassment of the public and of sports figures, aiming at automobiles, aiming at airplanes, etc. We see relatively few reports such as the one above, but have listed it as part of this coverage.
.

US: UPDATED - Calif. woman arrested for pointing laser at fire engine

A woman was arrested for pointing a laser at a fire truck that was responding to a call, and then again as they returned to the fire house on June 30 2012. Irene Marie Levy, 31, of San Jacinto, California was charged with pointing a laser at a moving vehicle. She was also charged with violating her probation on a previous conviction of making fake bomb threats and interfering with emergency radio dispatches in 2010. Bail in the laser incident was set at $25,000.

There was no reason given for Levy’s use of the laser pointer against the driver of the fire truck.

Irene Levy laser
Irene Marie Levy


From KABC and the Press-Enterprise

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2012: Levy was arrested on November 2 2012 for aiming a laser at a police cruiser, then at the sheriff’s department helicopter sent to investigate. More on this story is here.

US: Teen arrested for pointing a laser at an officer

A Mililani, Hawaii teenager was arrested for aiming a laser at an off-duty Honolulu police officer on May 9 2012. The laser beam hit the officer in the face and eyes while he was driving. It is unknown if other motorists were also targeted or hit. The 15-year-old was charged with possession of a laser by a minor, harassment by laser and reckless endangerment.

From KITV.com

US: Juvenile temporarily blinds officer, who remains out for evaluation

A police officer in Montville (NJ) was temporarily blinded by a green laser pointer wielded by a juvenile in a February 8 2012 incident. As of February 17, the officer remains off duty for evaluation. The juvenile was charged with aggravated assault and interfering with transportation.

Patrolman Jason Blustein was driving to investigate a burglar alarm when the beam went into his left eye and he “briefly lost vision.” Blustein continued to the alarm site where he found it was a false alarm. He then went to the home where the beam had been aimed from a second-floor window. He spoke with a woman who called her son downstairs. A laser pointer was confiscated and the boy was arrested. Police say “the juvenile was upset and said he didn’t mean it.”

From the Montville NJ Patch

US: Road rage laser in passenger's eyes, then bullets in car

In a road rage incident February 12 2012, four Cincinnati-area teenagers were targeted first by a laser that hit the front seat passenger in the eyes, then by bullets that shattered the window glass and hit one of the teens in the leg. Driver Grady Black said of the other car’s driver "He was in the right lane I was in the left lane and they flipped him off out of the window and the next thing you know he shined the laser into the car, we thought it was just a laser pointer and I hear the window shatter and I took off."

It turned out that the light was from a laser sight on the gun. The injured teenager, Kevin Boegeman, appears to be “alright all things considered.” The perpetrator has not been found as of February 13.

From WKRC Cincinnati

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: We monitor news reports of laser misuse. One reason for this is to try to get an idea of the relative rate of events such as harassment of the public and of sports figures, aiming at automobiles, aiming at airplanes, etc. We see relatively few reports such as the one above, but have listed it as part of this coverage.
.