Your Home Your story reservation A Boston man is accused of pointing a laser at a Coast Guard helicopter trying to land at Massachusetts General Hospital

A Boston man is accused of pointing a laser at a Coast Guard helicopter trying to land at Massachusetts General Hospital

0 Comments


A Boston man has been arrested for allegedly pointing a laser at a Coast Guard helicopter that was trying to land at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to the FBI.

Philip Gagnon, 59, is accused of pointing the powerful laser pointer at the military helicopter that was trying to land during a training mission. The pilot ultimately aborted the hospital landing because of the laser beam, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Gagnon was arrested and federally charged for pointing a laser pointer at the Coast Guard helicopter on September 21, 2023.

Coast Guard helicopter 6039 attempted to land at Massachusetts General Hospital that evening as part of a routine training mission with four crew members on board.

As the helicopter descended toward the hospital, Gagnon “allegedly pointed a powerful green laser beam at the helicopter from his apartment,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

“The laser beam reportedly illuminated the side of the helicopter and shone through the helicopter windows,” the FBI added. “In response, the pilot aborted the MGH landing and flew several miles north, ultimately landing at another hospital in the Boston area.”

Gagnon lives on the fourth floor of an apartment building near MGH, and his apartment overlooks a flight path often used by helicopters landing at the hospital, the complaint states.

Gagnon was released on conditions after an initial appearance in Boston federal court on Monday.

The charge of pointing a laser pointer at an aircraft carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the United States Sentencing Guidelines and statutes that govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Last year, pilots reported 13,304 laser attacks to the FAA, as the number of laser incidents remains at a high level. The total of 13,304 reported laser attacks was a 41% spike from the 9,457 reported laser attacks in 2022.

“Laser attacks on aircraft remain a serious threat to aviation safety,” the FAA said in a statement accompanying the data. “Intentionally pointing lasers at aircraft poses a safety risk to pilots and violates federal law. Many powerful lasers can take out pilots flying planes potentially carrying hundreds of passengers.

“The FAA works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to pursue civil and criminal penalties against people who purposefully point a laser at an aircraft,” according to the FAA website.

The FAA has imposed $120,000 in fines for laser attacks in 2021.

___

© 2024 MediaNews Group, Inc

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC