A young passenger aboard the Island Home ferry during the 7:15 pm crossing from Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole shone a laser into the bridge of a Coast Guard vessel Thursday night and, for a short time, passengers aboard the ferry were held on board until he confessed, according to Sean Driscoll, a spokesman for the Steamship Authority.
“Last night, after 8, as the Island Home was docking in Woods Hole, the vessel was hailed by the Coast Guard,” Driscoll said. “They told the captain someone had shined a laser into the bridge of a Coast Guard vessel in the fog last night.”
Nathan Mendes, a spokesman for Station Woods Hole, said the Coast Guard was on a routine mission at the time.
“There was a green laser that came from the ferry. [It] struck some crew members in the eye. They notified the ferry,” Mendes said.
The Island Home crew made an announcement on the loudspeaker, telling the customers that no one would get off the ferry until they found out who pointed the laser at the Coast Guard, Driscoll said. The young man stepped forward, and the Coast Guard gathered his information and his family information, but declined to get local law enforcement involved.
“It was sorted out with relative speed,” Driscoll said.
A passenger estimated it was about 10 minutes.
“Due to the incident, they had to terminate that mission and head back,” Mendes said.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, “the light energy from a laser pointer aimed into the eye can be more damaging than staring directly into the sun. And the startling effect of a bright beam of light can cause serious accidents when aimed at a driver in a car, a pilot in a plane, or even a person holding a cup of hot coffee.”
Pointing a laser at a plane is a federal offense, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and can include either a hefty fine or up to five years in prison.
“Obviously, this could have been a worse situation,” Mendes said. “We would like the public to know that while this one didn’t cause injury, the mission could have been responding to a life-or-death situation.”