Brunswick Co. man facing one of NC's first charges for pointing laser at aircraft

Published: May. 10, 2014 at 1:39 AM EDT|Updated: May. 14, 2014 at 12:25 AM EDT
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Ward points out the location from where the lazer came from
Ward points out the location from where the lazer came from
Christopher Funk (Source: Oak Island PD)
Christopher Funk (Source: Oak Island PD)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A man in Oak Island was arrested on felony charges for pointing a laser at an aircraft Tuesday. It's one of the first of its kind in the state of North Carolina.

Police records reported Christopher Funk said he was drunk when the incident happened and did not remember much except for shining a laser light around.

However, Jessica Ward, who called 911 about the laser, said she was flying in a helicopter when the light seemed to track the aircraft until it hit the cock pit.

"It refracted in the bubble and lit it up like a light bulb," Ward said.

She says it blinded her and the man she was training to fly during the crucial moments when landing.

"It makes you unable to look at the instruments and unable to look at the ground," Ward said.

She says Funk made a mistake pointing his laser at her aircraft because she doesn't take the crime lightly.

"They threatened our lives," Ward said.

Though there are many reports of incidents similar to this across the United States, this is one of the first arrests made for a charge of pointing a laser at an aircraft in North Carolina.

"I don't know if they thought it was a game, but the reality is it's an extremely hazardous situation created not just for the pilots in the aircraft but the people on the surface," Ward said.

It's normally hard for authorities to find the person responsible for the crime in these situations, but Ward says she was able to pin point a location the light was coming from and help officers make an arrest.

"He focused getting the helicopter safely on the ground, while I focused on locating where the laser was coming from. I said you know what, this is a real threat that needs to be handled," Ward said.

It's a threat that Ward had only heard about until she experienced it first hand.

"I just thought this seems like a bad dream," Ward said. "I can't believe this is about to happen to us at this airport in this community, and sure enough, it did."

Pointing a laser at an aircraft could result in five years in prison.

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