Florida man pointed laser at sheriff's helicopter, deputies say

By Daniel Dahm, Managing Editor of ClickOrlando.com, ddahm@clickorlando.com
Published On: Jun 09 2014 06:56:41 PM EDT
laser pointer
LONGWOOD, Fla. -

A 19-year-old Seminole County man was arrested on allegations of pointing a laser light at a sheriff's helicopter.

[RAW VIDEO: Man pointed laser at helicopter]

Trevor Ragno, of Longwood, was arrested Saturday on felony charges of pointing a laser light at a pilot and culpable negligence. 

According to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, shortly before midnight, the sheriff's helicopter, Alert 2, was on patrol over Interstate 4 and E.E. Williamson Road at 800 feet, when the flight crew reported a green laser light flashed through the cockpit.  

The helicopter used infrared to direct deputies to a home on Deer View Place, where Ragno was located outside, officials said.  Ragno was arrested and taken to jail. 

"Shining a light into an aircraft creates a glare on the windscreen and generates a temporary flash of blindness, similar to a camera flash," the Seminole Count Sheriff's Office said.  "It is highly dangerous for pilots and flight crew who can experience blurred vision or become disoriented.  At the time of Saturday night’s laser strikes, Alert 2 was flying at approximately 800 feet."

The FBI and FAA were notified of the incident.  The FAA has the ability to impose civil penalties of up to $10,000 and the FBI could file federal charges for pointing a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft.

Ragno posted a $1,100 bond Sunday morning and was released.

Officials said in Seminole County alone there have been five incidents of lasers being pointed at pilots, all leading to arrests.

"If the laser beam goes directly into the night vision and amplifies the eye it can create permanent damage and ruin the night vision goggles that are very expensive," said Pilot Steve Farris.

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