PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge sentenced a Portland man to two years of probation for pointing at a laser at a television news helicopter.
Fernando Garces, 25, pleaded guilty to one felony count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. In addition to probation, Garces also agreed to write a letter of apology.
Video of the incident showed a bright blue laser striking KGW’s news helicopter during coverage of a protest on November 9, 2016. The helicopter pilot and a photojournalist were temporarily blinded, according to federal prosecutors.
A KGW investigation in 2016 found a spike in the number of laser strikes reported by commercial pilots.
According to the FAA, there were 7,346 reported laser strikes on commercial aircraft, private planes and helicopters in the U.S. in 2015, up from 3,894 in 2014.
Portland International Airport had 109 laser incidents in 2015, up from 74 reported cases in 2014.