Calgary Laser Blinds Police Helicopter Pilot, Man Arrested

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CALGARY - A Calgary police helicopter pilot was momentarily blinded when a beam from a powerful laser was flashed at the aircraft during a routine patrol.

Police say a light from what's known as a type-three laser was allegedly flashed three times at the chopper as it flew over a northwest neighbourhood in the night.

Duty Insp. Guy Baker says officers cordoned off an area and eventually arrested a 19-year-old man.

Michael Sanche is charged with assault causing bodily harm and two mischief-related charges under the Criminal Code.

He is also charged under the Canadian Aviation Regulations Aeronautic Act.

Police say the laser that was used can cause permanent blindness and can even burn skin.

"This caused extreme anxiety of our pilot," Baker said Thursday. "The potential for eye injury was great.

"And you can imagine, if you're temporarily blinded and you're operating a helicopter, what kind of precarious position that would put ... the pilot, the people inside the helicopter and of course people living on the ground."

Sanche is to appear in court again on Tuesday.