SALT LAKE CITY — The helicopter pilot flying a patient to a hospital last year recalled the green light swallowing his field of vision just as he learned that another plane was nearby.

Kevin Horn said Thursday in federal court that he had to ask a nurse onboard to take a break from rendering aid in order to scan the sky.

“We had traffic pop up and all the sudden, we got hit by a green laser. It kind of distracted us from flying,” Horn said.

He described how the laser once again hit his helicopter near Echo Reservoir as he returned from the hospital to Rock Springs, Wyoming in the early hours of Aug. 28, 2017.

The incident also had a lasting effect on Michael Ray Kane, the 26-year-old carpenter from Coalville convicted of aiming the laser at the chopper, a federal felony.

Kane was ordered Thursday to serve three years of probation. U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball handed down the sentence moments after the pilot described how night-vision goggles intensified the beam, but he did not sustain any permanent damage that would threaten his livelihood.

“There’s no question this is serious conduct and could have ended in a disaster,” Kimball said, noting the effect that could have been magnified if a commercial airline were operating the flight.

Prosecutors ad sought a heftier penalty of six months in prison. Assistant U.S. attorney Michael Kennedy said such a sentence would send a strong message as similar incidents crop up around the country.

“This is a rampant offense,” Kennedy said, not an innocent prank.

Kane declined to address the judge. As part of a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty in March in exchange for a recommendation he serve a lesser sentence than the possible five-year prison term and $250,000 fine that the offense carries.

“He shouldn’t have done what he …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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