Laser strikes injure Colo. Flight For Life crew

The helicopter pilot and two crew members experienced red, swollen eyes after suffering two laser strikes in one night

By Kerri Hatt

PUEBLO, Colo. — A Flight for Life pilot and two crew members were injured after being targeted by laser pointers twice in the same night.

Flight For Life Pilot Eric Bellings told CBS4, “It can really frustrate a pilot, and we all really deal with it on a nightly basis,” he said. “I don’t think the laser strikes are going to calm down until people realize that they are threatening our lives up there. And that’s the major fear right is to blind the pilot enough that they can’t control the aircraft and potentially end up crashing.”

The crew reported they were first hit by a modest laser while approaching St. Mary Corwin Hospital, in Pueblo, Colorado. Later, they were hit again while taking off after dropping off a patient in Castle Rock, Colorado.

“My crew member hollered ‘laser strike’ and the next thing we got struck again,” Bellings said. This time, the laser strike was intense, and green light lit up the cockpit, even penetrating the side of Bellings’ goggles.

The crew members were checked out at Pueblo and by eye doctors the next day to see if there was any permanent damage. All three experienced swelling and red eyes, with Bellings’ crew members suffering headaches. They were all cleared to return to work.

The FAA has recorded more than 6,700 laser incidents already in 2021. That’s on pace to exceed last year’s 6,852 incidents, recorded despite a decrease in flights in 2020.

“It eliminates me being able to protect my crew and get home safe to my family,” Bellings told CBS4. “Not only are they endangering my life they’re endangering my crew members lives. They’re endangering our patient if we have a patient.”

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