Share this story...
laser ferries, high-powered laser
Latest News

Man fined $13K for playing with high-powered laser

The laser that was confiscated from Mark Raden is 1,000 times more powerful than a standard laser pointer and can ignite a block of wood after just a few seconds. (Photo courtesy of the Washington State Patrol)

The Washington man who was charged with a felony after temporarily blinding ferry captains with a high-powered laser has received his sentence for the incident.

Mark Raden of Freeland (on Whidbey Island) was fined $9,500 for his crime in late December 2016, according to the United States Coast Guard, for an incident that took place more than a year prior. Raden also pled guilty in Island County Superior Court for the same incident and was sentenced to 15 days in jail, 240 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $3,740.89 in restitution to the master and chief mate of the ferry. Raden also has 24 months probation.

Related: Christmas lasers interfering with boat, air traffic

That takes Raden’s total fines up to $13,240.89, all for playing with a laser.

But it wasn’t just any laser. It was a blue, high-powered laser. Promotional videos of this type of laser show it setting blocks of wood on fire. It is about 1,000 times more powerful than the average laser pointer used in office meetings.

On Oct. 22, 2015, Raden was aboard the WSF Kitsap between Mukilteo and Clinton. He saw the WSF Tokitae passing in the distance and decided to point the high-powered laser at the wheelhouse of the passing ferry. The beam of light hit the wheelhouse and lit it up. In turn, it temporarily blinded the captain and others in the cabin. There were 106 people aboard the ferry boat at the time its operators were blinded.

Previous high-powered laser problems

It wasn’t the first time Raden came face-to-face with the law over his use of the high-powered laser. Five months prior to the ferry incident, he and a friend were found pointing the laser into homes on Whidbey Island late at night. Startled residents called 911, and when an officer arrived to find Raden using the laser, Raden reportedly shined the laser in the police officer’s face.

An officer wrote in a police report:

When I looked at Officer Black, his entire head was illuminated in purple light and he was attempting to shield his eyes. Officer Black repeatedly directed Raden to stop pointing the laser into his eyes but Raden did not stop until Officer Black had repeatedly warned him to stop pointing the laser into his eyes.

And Raden also came into contact with the law before the officer incident when he was found using the laser and acid as a weapon.

Most Popular