Man accused of 'absolutely shocking' laser strikes on Otago Rescue Helicopter

A man has appeared in a Southland court today charged with endangering transport after alleged laser strikes on the Otago Rescue Helicopter last month.

Laser Pointer Source: Breakfast

Gore police yesterday arrested the 33-year-old over the alleged laser strikes at about 7.30pm on May 22.

He appeared in Gore District Court today charged with endangering transport.

Police say endangering transport is a serious offence, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

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The CAA says laser strikes have the “potential to cause an extremely high level of public harm in the case of an accident”. Source: Seven Sharp

They say the pilot and crew members on board the aircraft at the time were uninjured but justifiably angry about the incident.

Deliberately shining a laser at any aircraft can cause the pilot to become disoriented and temporarily blinded, which in turn could cause them to lose control of the aircraft, authorities say.

“I think the majority of the public would agree that deliberately endangering an aircraft, which has the sole purpose of saving lives, is absolutely shocking behaviour,” says Detective Leigh Waddell.  

“Thankfully on this occasion there were no patients on board at the time.”

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Shaun Clark says his life was put in danger and tried to chase down his attackers. Source: Seven Sharp

Police say they would still like to speak to anybody who witnessed the incident or the subsequent fleeing driver incident around Gore. 

Witnesses are being asked to contact Mr Waddell at the Gore Police Station on 03 203 9300. 

Anonymous information can be provided by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.