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Laser pen shone at rescue helicopter during search for missing man

The aircraft was assisting in the hunt for a man who fell from the Greig Street Bridge in Inverness.

Laser pen: Shone into cockpit of helicopter.
Laser pen: Shone into cockpit of helicopter. Alex Gorzen, licensed for reuse (cropped)

A laser pen was shone into the cockpit of a rescue helicopter during the search for a missing man in Inverness.

Police said the pilot was "distracted" by the laser, which is thought to have been aimed from the Merkinch area of the city as the aircraft assisted in the hunt for a man who fell from the Greig Street Bridge.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "A green laser was shone into the cockpit of a search and rescue helicopter, which at the time was conducting a search for a missing person who had entered the water of the River Ness.

"The use of a laser pointer in this manner is extremely reckless and such use could have dangerous consequences for the person distracted - who in this particular instance, was the pilot of an aircraft - in addition to any crew on board and also the general public."

The man who fell into the River Ness is thought to be a foreign national but has not been identified.

Police Scotland added: "Local officers continue to search surrounding land areas today to trace the man, who sadly appears to have entered the water and been carried down river.

"Where weather conditions allow, we will continue to utilise all available resources for water and air searches, coordinated with our partner agencies.

"A key part to this inquiry is to establish the man's last movements and as such we would appeal to anyone who noticed a middle-aged man in dark clothing on or near the bridge between 5pm and 6pm on Sunday evening to make contact.

"We understand the bridge was busy with pedestrians around this time so any information will be considered as we continue our search efforts."

It is the second time in less than a year that a search and rescue helicopter has been targeted by a laser pen in Inverness.

The first last happened less than a day after Bristow took over responsibility for Scottish rescue operations in April 2015. Inverness is home to one of Bristow’s three search and rescue helicopter bases in Scotland.

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