Sheriff helicopter pilots cleared to work after laser incident caused eye injuries

— Two Collier County Sheriff’s Office pilots who were grounded after a laser light was pointed into their helicopter were cleared for full duty as of Jan. 5, according to spokeswoman Kristi Lester.

Cpl. Joseph Andreasen and flight office Cpl. Shawn Bogart had been patrolling North Naples early New Year’s Day when a green laser light shone into the cockpit.

A report had indicated the two had broken blood vessels in their eyes and needed a medical evaluation.

Two teens were arrested and face felony charges.

Hidalgo Moreno, 19, and Nicholas Ramos, 17, were charged with pointing a laser at an aircraft, a third degree felony with a maximum of five years in prison.

Moreno’s arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 24. Court information on Ramos, because he is a minor, is not available.

Shining a laser at an aircraft could also carry state and federal penalties.

The state attorney’s office has not filed charges against Moreno or Ramos, said Samantha Syoen, spokeswoman.

“We’re still reviewing the evidence,” she said.

She could not comment on the range of possible charges being considered.

State prosecutors did not press charges against Eric Newsome, then 28, who in 2007 was charged by Collier deputies with injuring pilot Lt. March Cherney’s vision with a laser.

Unlike red lasers, green lasers are strong beams that are often used in astronomy to point out stars and constellations.

Green lasers pointed at aircraft at or below 2,000 feet can cause problems for pilots and passengers alike, including pain, injury and operational problems, the Federal Aviation Administration reported in December.

Andreasen and Bogart had been flying at about 500 feet and noticed the laser coming from about a half mile away.

Connect with Tara E. McLaughlin at

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