CLEARWATER — A U.S. Coast Guard boat crew underwent eye exams after someone on land aimed a laser at their boat and caused the crew to temporarily lose night vision late Saturday.
The crew on the 25-foot response boat was inundated with blue-and-green laser bursts while on patrol about a mile southwest of Clearwater, authorities said. The beams hit half the crew directly, but all lost some night vision.
The crew, which the agency said would typically be three to five people for a boat that size, returned to Coast Guard Station Sand Key for eye exams, which is standard procedure. They checked out fine, spokeswoman Crystalynn Kneen said.
State law bans people from aiming lasers at anyone operating a "motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft." It's a third-degree felony. It was unclear who shined the handheld device.
"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 Coast Guard search and rescue coordinator. She asks people to report the illegal use of lasers if witnessed.