WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - “The first time I got hit with a laser, it got me in the left eye,” said Sgt. Michael Musto, a pilot who oversees the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit.
“We all make mistakes, and playing with the laser was the biggest mistake I ever made,” said Jackie Robledo (33, Lake Worth), who found herself in handcuffs last month after she admitted to pointing a laser at the PBSO helicopter.
“That was the worst day of my life. And in front of my kids? That was the worst thing ever. I wanted to die,” said Robledo, who spoke exclusively to Contact 5.
Robledo, who is a school district employee and a mom to four young girls, explained the incident happened during a blackout in Lake Worth, and friend brought a laser over to her house. She told Contact 5 it was an accident.
“I’m really sorry, and I’m ashamed, and embarrassed. I did not do it on purpose. I promise you I did not do it on purpose,” said Robledo.
An aimless gesture, or a pointed mark? That is a question for the State Attorney’s Office (SAO), who determines whether or not to prosecute the third degree felony, which carries up to a five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
According to a spokesperson for the SAO, laser crimes are often hard to prosecute, because it is often difficult to prove intent. In Robledo’s case, the charge was dropped.
Regardless of intent, when a laser beam reaches 1,000 feet, Must says it is no longer a pinpoint. “You light up a cockpit with it, and it’s very bright. It takes away your concentration,” said Musto.
Use the map below to see laser incidents reported to the FAA between 2015 to 2017.