NAPA (KRON) — It is a disturbing new development connected with illegal sideshows–laser pointers being used to impair the vision of sideshow drivers.
The laser pointers were spotted at a sideshow over the weekend. Police say it should be a cause for major concern for sideshow participants.
The concern is also there for law enforcement patrolling the sky above these events.
Imagine this–you are monitoring an illegal sideshow from above, and suddenly, a bright, green light points toward the sky.
“That’s a laser right there from one of the spectators involved in the sideshow,” California Highway Patrol Officer Shaun Bouyea said.
Officer Bouyea is showing KRON4 the CHP helicopter video footage from Saturday’s sideshow in Oakland.
“I have never seen lasers used at sideshows before,” Officer Bouyea said. “This is something that is new. There were multiple lasers at this incident. Three or four people were shining lasers from multiple directions.”
Officer Bouyea says the lasers add a new layer of danger for sideshow drivers and those in the crowd.
“So, if a laser got in the eyes of a sideshow participant, it is going to cause temporary blindness, permanent eye damage,” Officer Bouyea said. “It could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle itself. If he loses control, it is going to hit multiple people at once and cause mass injuries.”
CHP officials say in addition to the laser pointers creating a hazard for participants in the sideshows and spectators, there is also a potential hazard for CHP officers in the air
“The lasers could cause temporary blindness for the pilot, could cause the pilot to alter their course, and it could cause the helicopter to crash,” Officer Bouyea said. “However, there are preventable measures we can take to prevent that from happening.”
While it is legal to own a laser pointer, it is, however, a federal crime to point one toward any aircraft.
“It is extremely dangerous and something they should not be doing,” Officer Bouyea said.
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