A North Hollywood man who pointed a laser at a business jet and a police helicopter was sentenced Monday to 2 years in federal prison.
Adam Gardenhire, 19, pointed a green laser beam at a Cessna Citation and later at a Pasadena police helicopter that was investigating the first incident, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney.
The Cessna pilot, who was about to land at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank when the laser beam struck his eyes multiple times, suffered vision impairment for several hours, Mrozek said.
The police helicopter pilot had protective eye gear and his vision was not affected. Police officers from Burbank, Pasadena and Los Angeles investigated, along with the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Prosecutors said Gardenhire, who was arrested in April and pleaded guilty in October, was the second person prosecuted under a new law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2012 that makes it illegal to deliberately aim a laser at an aircraft. He faces a maximum of five years in prison for the March 29, 2012 incident.
In court on Monday, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson said he wanted the sentence to send a message to other people, Mrozek said.
Though narrow at their start, laser beams grow wider as they go into the air and can distract or temporarily blind pilots. Laser beams can be seen for miles.
Mrozek said there were almost 3,500 reports of such shinings last year, more than 500 of them in California.