Coast Guard fines man $9,500 for pointing laser at ferry

Freeland man endangered ferry master, chief mate, passengers on Mukilteo-Clinton route
By Nicholas Johnson | Jan 11, 2017
Courtesy of: the U.S. Coast Guard A high-powered blue laser shines against a black background, demonstrating how strong the light can be when emitted from this device.

A Freeland man who pointed a laser at a state ferry in 2015 while traveling between Mukilteo and Clinton has been issued a $9,500 civil penalty rather than the potential $100,000 penalty.

“That could have been what he owed but they chose to fine him for just the one violation,” said Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi of the U.S. Coast Guard’s public affairs office in Seattle.

In April, the Coast Guard fined 28-year-old Mark Raden of Whidbey Island $100,000 for violation of a safety and security zone as well as interference with the safe operation of the ferry Tokitae.

On Dec. 27, 2016, a Coast Guard Hearing Officer made a final assessment, choosing not to fine Raden for several prior laser incidents.

On Oct. 22, 2015, Raden was aboard the ferry Kitsap transitioning between Mukilteo and Clinton when he pointed a high-power blue laser at the ferry Tokitae, striking the vessel's master and chief mate in the eyes and endangering the 106 passengers on board.

Raden pleaded guilty in September 2016 to reckless endangerment in Island County Superior Court. He was ordered to serve 15 days in jail, perform 240 hours of community service and pay $3,740.89 in restitution to the master and chief mate. He was also ordered to serve 24 months of probation.

“Interfering with the safe operation of a vessel, particularly a large passenger vessel, endangers all of those on board and can also result in significant environmental impacts,” said Cmdr. Darwin Jensen, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound chief of prevention.

“This one person's irresponsible actions could have had a much more tragic outcome for the passengers of the Tokitae as the vessel was preparing to arrive in Clinton. The Coast Guard will pursue appropriate criminal or civil enforcement actions against anyone who interferes with the safe operation of vessels."

Raden, who has a history of lasering incidents, was accused in July 2015 of pointing a purple laser at a Langley police officer who was trying to stop him from shining it into homes.

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