Boy, 10, points laser at chopper

Chris Doucette, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:09 PM ET

TORONTO -- A youngster with a laser pointer created a scary situation for a police helicopter that was scouring a suburban neighbourhood in search of a gunman.

York police say the pilot of Air2 was momentarily blinded by a high-powered light source while flying over an area of Richmond Hill at around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"It may seem funny to someone on the ground, but the entire cockpit of the aircraft is lit up when it's hit by a laser pointer," Sgt. Gary Phillips said Friday.

"You're jeopardizing the pilot, the crew and people on the ground," he said.

In this case, Air2 was helping officers on the ground with a gun call, which Phillips said ended up being someone with a starter's pistol.

"The pilot encountered a bright green light-source strike and took immediate action for the safety of the crew and the aircraft," he said.

The crew was able to direct officers to the source of the light, a home on nearby Pathlane Rd.

Inside, they found a 10-year-old boy and seized a laser pointer.

Phillips said the lad's parents knew he had the laser but had no idea he was pointing it at aircraft. Because of his age, the boy is not facing charges.

Health Canada advises that a split-second look into a laser pointer can result in a condition called flash blindness.

This is similar to the effect you get during flash photography, where the image of the flash remains in your eyes for a few seconds, then fades away.

A pilot flying over a populated area may need to land immediately to avoid crashing, Phillips said.

Incidents involving laser pointers and aircraft are fairly common, he said.

There were more than a dozen such reports last year and so far in 2011 it has happened four times, he said.

Anyone caught pointing a laser at an aircraft can be charged under the Aeronautics Act as well as the Criminal Code with projection of a bright light source at an aircraft, endangering the safety of an aircraft, obstructing police, mischief endangering life and assaulting police, Phillips warned.


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