A Vaughan man has pleaded guilty in connection with a 2015 laser strike on a York Region police helicopter.
York police said Nicholas Caranci, 20, has been sentenced to a fine of $3,000. He pleaded guilty to projecting a bright light source into navigable airspace on Monday in a Newmarket court.
Back in August 2015, Caranci — then 19 — was charged after the force's Air2 helicopter was hit several times with a laser beam while responding to a weapons call.
The helicopter was flying over the area of Highway 7 and Pine Valley Drive, assisting officers on the ground.
"These guys are continuously hitting us here," the officer on board the aircraft said in a video of the incident posted to YouTube.
Police said the tactical flight officer used the Air2's camera system to spot three men by a vehicle, including one who was pointing a handgun with a laser pointer at the helicopter.
Officers on the ground followed the man, who fled the scene. He was later found trying to hide under trees.
'Flash blindness' can lead to a crash
A split-second look into a laser pointer can result in a condition called "flash blindness," similar to what happens when the image of a camera flash remains in your eyes for a few seconds, according to Health Canada.
In a release on Friday morning, York police said this situation can lead to "serious" consequences for pilots.
"Those who aim these pointers at aircraft are putting lives in danger, not only in the aircraft but on the ground," police said.
"There is a serious potential for harm to the pilot and the prospect of a crash."
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact York Regional Police at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7441 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.