10-year-old in Parlier caught shining laser at Fresno County Sheriff's Office aircraft

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Eagle Three and its crew were cruising over Parlier Tuesday when suddenly the pilot gets hit in the face with a powerful beam.

"As I turned the laser got directed straight at us and went straight into my eyes," said David Cunha, Fresno County Sheriff Deputy.

Deputy Cunha said he was temporarily blinded and as he tried maneuvering his aircraft the bright green light struck again.

"The intensity in the air even though you are a long ways away, the intensity doesn't decrease, the beam just gets wider so it's harder to avoid looking at it."

It didn't take long for the crew and Parlier police to track down who it was. The laser belonged to a 10-year-old boy who told officers he was trying to aim the light towards a star.

"He was scared and apologetic, and obviously at 10-years-old probably didn't realize the ramifications of what he was doing," said Cunha.

It was not your typical laser-- it even requires a lock to activate and deputies say the 10-year-old shined it multiple times towards the plane.

"Definitely not something I would consider to be a child's toy," said Cunha.

Cunha said playing with lasers near Parlier is especially dangerous because commercial airliners landing in Fresno fly in from that direction.

"So, I was able to reorient myself and get my vision back but it's still a dangerous thing at night, where you don't have as many outside visual references, to get disoriented when you can't see."

Last year about 30 cases similar to this were reported in the Fresno area alone and deputies say any one of them could have ended with a blinded pilot or even a deadly crash.

Deputies say the light from the laser can travel as far as five miles and this case has been passed along to the District Attorney's Office to decide if charges will be filed.
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