Flight for Life Helicopter Targeted with Laser Beam

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) -- An Illinois man could face charges after a Flight for Life helicopter was targeted with a laser beam, the Summit County sheriff's office said.

Deputies questioned Jesse Rose, 22, of Edwardsville, Ill., on Friday after the helicopter crew was able to pinpoint the source of an intense green light that intermittently shined on the helicopter while it flew at 11,000 feet over the Keystone ski resort area, sheriff's spokeswoman Jill Berman said.

The helicopter, which was returning to Summit County from Denver, did not have a patient on board and nobody was injured, Berman said. It was the latest in a string of similar incidents around the country, including several in Colorado.

During questioning, Rose allegedly told deputies he had received a laser pointer as a gift and was experimenting to see how far it would shine, Berman said.

She said the sheriff's office notified the FBI and Summit County prosecutors. FBI spokesman Carl Schlaff said Thursday that no federal charges would be filed.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said he was waiting for official word from federal prosecutors before deciding whether to consider charging Rose. He did not know what charges Rose could face.

The federal government has warned that terrorists might use lasers to blind pilots as they approach airports, and a Federal Aviation Administration study concluded that lasers could cause a crash.

No links to terrorism were found in any of the rash of such incidents around the country that began in December, authorities said. But the government said in January it would require pilots to immediately report any lasers beamed at aircraft.

At least one person has been charged. David Banach of Parsippany, N.J., faces counts of interfering with the operator of a mass transportation vehicle and making false statements to the FBI after allegedly aiming a green laser at a small jet flying over his home near Teterboro Airport. Court documents indicated Banach, who said he was pointing at stars, was negotiating a plea agreement with authorities.