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Coast Guard fines Whidbey Island man $9,500 for laser strike on state ferry

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A high-powered blue laser shines against a black background, demonstrating just how strong the light can be when emitted from this device. A Coast Guard Hearing Officer assessed a $9,500 civil penalty, Dec. 27, 2016, to a Washington resident for interfering with the safe operation of the Washington State Ferry Tokitae by shining a high-powered blue laser at the vessel on October 22, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo.)

SEATTLE — The U.S. Coast Guard has penalized a Western Washington man $9,500 for shining a high-power blue laser at a state ferry.

According to the Coast Guard, Mark Raden of Freeland was aboard the WSF Kitsap heading from Mukilteo to Clinton when he pointed the laser at the Tokitae, striking the vessel master and chief mate in the eyes.

There were 106 passengers on the ferry at the time.

“Interfering with the safe operation of a vessel, particularly a large passenger vessel, endangers all of those on board and can also result in significant environmental impacts, said Cmdr. Darwin Jensen, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound chief of prevention. “This one person’s irresponsible actions could have had a much more tragic outcome for the passengers of the Tokitae as the vessel was preparing to arrive in Clinton. The Coast Guard will pursue appropriate criminal or civil enforcement actions against anyone who interferes with the safe operation of vessels.”

The Coast Guard says Raden has a history of lasering incidents and also pled guilty in Island County Superior Court to reckless endangerment. He was ordered to serve 15 days in jail, perform community service and pay more than $3,700 in restitution.