Clearwater, Florida -- The U.S. Coast Guard says a crew on board a boat was targeted by a laser from shore near Clearwater early Sunday morning.
The incident happened around 4 a.m. when the crew aboard a 25-foot response boat was on patrol about a mile southwest of Clearwater. They were hit by a three to four second blue-green laser.
"The entire crew experienced loss of night vision and half the crew received a direct hit from the laser," according to a coast guard statement. "The boat crew had to return to the station and receive eye exams."
The Coast Guard said helicopter aircrews in the area also have been targeted with lasers, which pose a significant hazard to the personnel, especially when helicopter crews are operating at low altitude at night.
The Coast Guard says pointing a laser at any aircraft is a federal offense.
"It is important to point out that the people committing these crimes are not only putting the lives of our helicopter and boat crews in jeopardy, but they are also endangering the lives of their fellow citizens," said Lt. Kathleen Sullivan, a search and rescue coordinator at the sector. "We're asking the public to help us put an end to this reckless behavior by reporting the illegal use of lasers if they witness it happening."
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