Port Angeles, Washington, Man Arrested for 2016 Laser Pointer Incident with Coast Guard Helicopter
Laser Strikes Can Damage Vision and Impair Safe Operation of Aircraft
A 33-year-old Port Angeles, Washington, man was arrested this morning in connection with a September 26, 2016, laser pointer strike on a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. RANDALL MUCK was indicted by a grand jury last week, charging him with aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft and making false statements to government agents. MUCK will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Tacoma at 2:30 today.
The indictment alleges that on the evening of September 26, 2016, MUCK pointed a laser beam at a Coast Guard helicopter. According to reports of the incident, the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter was descending when it was hit by a laser that originated near Fourth and Hill Streets in Port Angeles. Laser light can cause temporary loss of vision and force an air crew to abort its mission. In this incident, no one suffered permanent damage, but the crew had to return to base and be assessed medically before returning to duty. Helicopter crews from Whidbey Island and Oregon had to cover the Port Angeles area of responsibility while the air crew was being cleared to return for duty.
The subsequent investigation identified MUCK as a suspect.
The indictment also alleges that on May 3, 2018, when questioned by government agents, MUCK made false statements to the FBI claiming that he did not see the Coast Guard helicopter in the sky on September 26, 2016.
Both counts are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Grady Leupold and André Peñalver.