Jackass Who Lasered Children's Hospital Chopper Gets 14-Year Sentence

Astounding moron Sergio Rodriguez got slapped with a 14-year prison sentence earlier this month, convicted of aiming a laser pointer at an emergency medical helicopter taking a young patient to Children's Hospital of Central California. Remember folks, trying to blind pilots midair is a very, very bad idea.

The criminal complaint against Rodriguez, obtained by Ars Technica, says Rodriguez blasted "Air George," the emergency transport helicopter serving Children's Hospital of Central California, as it was carrying a child patient to the Fresno hospital one night in August 2012. Air George radioed air traffic control, who mobilized a police helicopter to locate the laser.

That wasn't enough for Rodriguez. He blasted the police helicopter seven times as it circled his location.

Luckily, none of the pilots Rodriguez lasered were blinded, and the police helicopter helped officers from the nearby town of Clovis locate and arrest Rodriguez and his girlfriend Jennifer Coleman, who also tried blasting the helicopters at Rodriguez's encouragement.

Rodriguez's sentence is so far the harshest given to anyone for aiming a laser at a pilot—previous sentences measured around 18 months. Rodriguez's long rap sheet, including multiple DUIs and a 2012 burglary, probably contributed to his sentence. Coleman has been convicted, and will be sentenced in May.

Just so we're clear, zapping pilots midair with lasers is an incredibly, psychotically stupid idea. Unfortunately, it's popping into the minds of an increasing number of idiots: nearly 4,000 incidents were reported in 2013, up more than ten-fold since 2005. The FBI now offers a $10,000 reward for reporting laser morons, and a national task force searches out perpetrators of this federal crime.

Luckily, when turds decide to shoot lasers at helicopters, the cops can often find them with shocking swiftness. Those laser pointers work nicely as moron beacons. [FBI via Ars Technica]

Image: Shutterstock / Robin Lund