SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Kevin Horn was taking a patient to the hospital when he became distracted.
It was last August and Horn, a pilot for AirMed was struck by a laser coming from the ground. He had just passed Echo Reservoir near Coalville.
“We had traffic pop up and all of a sudden we got hit by a green laser,” Horn told the judge during a federal sentencing. “It distracted us from flying.”
Horn called authorities. After dropping off the patient he returned to Rock Springs Wyoming and was hit again. He called the Summit County dispatch and followed the suspicious vehicle to a house. He said they waited there until law enforcement arrived.
Horn’s action led to the arrest of Ryan Kane. He was indicted in December and pleaded guilty earlier this year in an effort to avoid prison time. At Thursday’s sentencing, federal prosecutors recommended he serve six months in prison for the felony.
“This has got to stop because the stakes are way too high for these pilots who are flying around,” said Jared Bennett, deputy U.S. Attorney.
Kane did not address the court but his attorney said that he was remorseful and had changed his life and had minor skirmishes with the law.
“He shouldn’t have done what he did,” said his attorney Clark Donaldson.
The judge agreed with Donaldson’s assessment and gave Kane three-years of probation.
“A felony is a horrible burden,” he said.
Afterward, federal prosecutors didn’t seem disappointed that Kane was given probation. Bennett maintained it will still serve as a deterrent to others.
“Whatever pleasure people feel by shining lasers into a cockpit is mitigated by the fact that they will face a federal felony and it will be on the record for the rest of their lives,” said Bennett.
As part of Kane’s probation, he must submit to drug testing and cannot be in possession of any weapons.