Teen Gets Prison Sentence in Cessna Citation Laser Incident

California teen gets two and a half years behind bars.

Laser Pointer
Laser Pointer

A California teenager convicted of shining his laser pointer at two aircraft in flight has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison as part of a federal crackdown on such incidents.

Adam Gardenhire, 19, aimed his commercial-grade green laser in March 2012 at a Cessna Citation on approach to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and then at a Pasadena police helicopter dispatched to find the source.

He is the second person in the United States to be sentenced for aiming a laser at an aircraft, now a federal crime under a law that went into effect in February 2012. In addition, four more California residents have been indicted on similar charges. The first person sentenced under the new law was a Florida man, who received a six-month prison sentence last August.

Commercial laser pointers project a beam that can cause temporary blindness and even retina damage. According to prosecutors, the Citation pilot suffered “vision impairment that lasted for hours” after the incident.