Pitt Student Arrested For Pointing Laser At Medical Helicopters

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Federal Aviation Administration and Pittsburgh police say they arrested a Pitt student for pointing lasers into the cockpits of two medical helicopters.

Police say the student pointed the laser into the cockpit of a STAT MEDEVAC helicopter as it landed at the UPMC Medical Center.

This happened around midnight Saturday pretty close to the top floor of the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland.

Police say the student did it again at 3 a.m. In both cases, sources indicate the laser created major vision problems for helicopter pilots wearing highly sensitive night vision goggles.

“People are really being stupid,” Jim Peters, a spokesperson for the FAA, said.

For chopper pilots, the laser danger is very real. Every time they take off these days, there is the possibility a laser could create danger for them.

“The MEDEVAC guys who are landing on a rural area on a road someplace out in the dark and somebody decides to play a game and fire a laser at them and he could go blind and crash the helicopter,” Dan Sweazen, a helicopter pilot, said.

The FAA calls the incident at Pitt serious and extremely dangerous, citing a dramatic increase in the number of laser threats to aircraft in the last several years, creating a potential danger for both the pilot or any passengers on board that aircraft.

“We started to track these in 2005 and that year we had 300 reported to us,” Peters said. “Last year we had over 2,800.”

The Pitt student, who was arrested Saturday night as he ran from the scene, is likely to face multiple charges and the possibility of tens of thousands of dollars in civil fines enforced by the FAA.

Federal Aviation Administration
Pittsburgh Police

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  • Robert Rockwell

    Hmmmm I wonder why the story never mentioned the name of the man who was arrested.

  • So-Co

    its a pitt student, i wouldnt expect anything less!

  • Anonymous

    The Military treats lasers like a direct fire weapon or a gun. People don’t realize that the Optics that the pilots wear will intesify the laser and possible blind the pilot.

  • spongebob

    It was a Pitt student, it was the Pitt police that arrested him, city had nothing to do with it and he did not run from the scene.

  • Clem

    The report states that the student did it again around 3 AM….How is he able to get in the Cathedral of Learning at that time? Also, FAA should make an example of him and throw him in jail for years and make it very clear through the media that this is a serious crime. Imagine if he found out later that one of his family members was being lifeflighted and crashed because he wanted to be funny.

    • Seeking balance

      They need to take this seriously. Pilots go down, the passengers are in danger and with it being inside a cieyt, SERIOUS danger to the neighborhood. Arrest him, jail him, fine him….whatever, just make an example of him!

      • Seeking balance

        Ooops, if it’s inside the ‘city’ or heavily populated area, LOTS of people could be injured or killed!

  • bobbyjo

    Load him in a chopper, go up to 5000 feet and stick the laser up his arse and droop him out, if he makes it he’s a free jerk…

  • bobbyjo

    sorry, drop him out

    • Anonymous

      I like droop him out.. I think it would be more exciting for him…

  • Lisa Cannon

    The FAA needs to make an example of this imbecile. I can’t say what I really want to say because this a public forum!!! Suffice to say, however, that he NEEDS to do some federal jail time.

  • RPD

    Just goes to show ya that even IDIOTS get into college — what a freakin’ idiot.

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