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“It could take us down”: Flight for Life helicopters targeted by lasers in Pueblo

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Flight for Life Colorado reports that someone is pointing lasers at their helicopters at night, committing a crime that could have deadly consequences.

"We've seen probably... double the amount of strikes this last year with our helicopter with Lifeguard for this last year, and I don't know if it's out of boredom. I don't know," Flight for Life Registered Nurse Beverly Taylor said.

Laser strikes can cause vision damage to in-flight crews. That can lead to delayed patient care, and potentially cause a crash.

"If they got a direct hit on the pilot's eyes, it could potentially take us down," Flight for Life Pilot Eric Bellings said.

Bellings doesn't believe that the people committing this crime understand the consequences. He tried to explain what it feels like to have a laser pointed at his helicopter.

"The closest I can come to explain it is if you were in a dark room, and somebody were to use a flash right next to your eyes, once your eyes adjusted to that dark room," Bellings said. "It's blinding.

In some cases, it can literally blind members of the flight crew.

"In 2017, we had a crew member hit with a laser, he lost 30% of his vision in his right eye, and that was permanent damage," Taylor said, adding that that type of injury could end someone's career.

Charlcy Romero, a Flight for Life Registered Nurse, had a recent eye injury after a laser strike. It took her nearly a week to recover.

"We were flying into Parkview," Romero said. "I looked down to look at the monitor, my patient was having some issues with their blood pressure, and as soon as I looked down, the laser came right through the window into my eyes."

She said she didn't initially understand how badly her eyes had been damaged.

"I lost my vision for a few minutes due to black circles," Romero said. "Then, I had about a three to seven day of just... painful vision."

Flight for Life reports that several of their crew members have been forced to take days off to recover after eye injuries due to these laser strikes.

"It's sad," Romero said. "We're a part of this community. We're out there, we're here for them. So, just really think before you act."

Pointing lasers at aircraft is a federal offense, it comes with large fines and serious jail time. If you know who is pointing lasers at aircraft in southern Colorado, contact the police immediately.

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Sydnee Scofield

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