A teen has been jailed for aiming a laser beam at airplanes. Adam Gardenhire of North Hollywood, California has been sentenced to two years and six months in a federal prison. The 19-year old is accused of pointing a commercial-grade laser beam at aircraft in flight.
Authorities report that, on March 29, 2012, Gardenhire recklessly aimed a green high-powered laser beam at several planes, which were in flight. He then reportedly pointed the laser beam at a police helicopter.
As reported by Courthouse News, one of the pilots reported the incident when he suffered temporary loss of vision from the laser beam.
Federal law, signed by President Obama in 2012, prohibits pointing lasers at airplanes in flight or on the runway. The legislation was in response to an increase of laser beams being pointed at airplanes.
The FBI stated that pilots reported more than 3,500 laser pointer incidents in 2011 alone. The majority of those incidents reportedly occurred in California. Authorities consider laser beams a threat to aircraft safety as pilots have reported eye injury and flight disruption.
Officers with the Los Angeles and Pasadina police departments identified and arrested Gardenhire later the same night. The teen was jailed for aiming laser beams at airplanes under the new federal law.
As reported by LA Weekly, Gardenhire posted bond and was released. He was eventually indicted by a grand jury and pleaded guilty of aiming a laser beam at an airplane in October 2012.
On Monday US District Judge Stephen Wilson sentenced Gardenhire to 30 months in federal prison, stating that he hoped to set an example for others. The US Attorney’s office, who prosecuted the case, has stated that Gardenhire’s sentence is fair as he “recklessly endangered the safety of the aircraft.”
Gardenhire’s attorney has stated that his client did not expect the beam to actually reach the planes in flight.
It remains unclear whether Gardenhire realized what he was doing. Regardless of the circumstances, he has been jailed for aiming laser beams at airplanes. He is the second defendant charged under the new law.