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Old 03-24-2015, 05:27 AM #1
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Default Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

It appears that during the Man burn at Burning Man 2014, a Ranger at Burning Man suffered permanent blindness in one eye and permanent eye injury in another due to some asshole shining a high powered laser at the safety crews tending to the burn. These safety crews watch the audience during the burns and ensure that people remain a safe distance from the fire. Kelli Halston Hoversten suffered a direct hit to both eyes, causing irreparable damage. She has so far wracked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs trying to restore her vision. The unfortunate reality is that she will probably never regain her sight again in at least one eye and will suffer a lifetime of disability in the other.

From the Reddit post concerning the incident:

"A colleague of mine, a fellow Black Rock Ranger and Sandman, was blinded by a laser while on duty at Burning Man. She still has not regained vision in her left eye and it is possible that she never will. She was a volunteer. She was was out there protecting you, protecting the event. Because someone in the crowd was careless with a high-power, hand-held green laser, most likely a 1W 532 nm toy from China, she is maimed. This should never have happened.

Lasers like this are weapons. it only takes a momentary, glancing interaction between a beam and an eye to cause permanent blindness. They have no place at an event like Burning Man and I will do everything I can to get these devices banned. Not that it will help the Ranger who is facing the potential of a lifetime of disability.

I expect there were only a few dozen hand held lasers capable of doing this at the event. If you own one, you might be the one who (presumably unknowing) did this to my friend. If that thought is horrible, I'm sorry. What happened to her is worse."


It is extremely unfortunate that a person gets hurt by a laser due to accidental reasons. However, it is unacceptable that a person is injured by lasers due to malicious intent. We should do our best to ensure that perpetrators of crimes like these be punished for their actions, and also try to educate people about the dangers of lasers so that people treat them with respect.



Kelli Hoversten has an ongoing fundraiser to help and cover some of the expenses incurred due to this grievous injury. If you'd like to help Kelli, please donate. It'll also help show that the Laser enthusiast community is responsible and is concerned for the safety of people.

Kelli 'Ranger Halston' Hoversten' Gofundme page.


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Old 03-24-2015, 06:01 AM #2
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

I heard about this last year and it really
ticked me off. Thanks for helping with this.
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Old 03-24-2015, 08:56 AM #3
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

I doubt it was a 1W 532 due to their rarity, but it was obviously powerful. too bad they cant find the perp and do a forced eye transplant on his/her ass, go all hammurabi on 'em

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Old 03-24-2015, 09:26 AM #4
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

Damn. Of all the places for something lame like that to happen too. Such a preventable tragedy.

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Old 03-24-2015, 09:39 AM #5
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

Never been to burning man but event looks out of control and dangerous...... and fun
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:11 PM #6
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

"They are very dangerous, due to both the light that you can see and the ultraviolet light you canít see."

I think she means IR light
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Old 03-24-2015, 08:31 PM #7
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

Quote:
Originally Posted by starlight View Post
Never been to burning man but event looks out of control and dangerous...... and fun
I haven't had a chance to go yet, but I'm involved in the burner scene back here in L.A./O.C. Most of the people are at least 25+ in age and very cool/responsible. With regard to the safety of others anyway...most of them like to party and/or play with fire/gadgets though haha (myself included). I think the burning man community would universally denounce the idiot that did this.

OT: There is a photographer in that community here that specializes in creating amazing long exposure portraits without any editing. He uses several lasers, LEDS, lightbars, etc. He takes some really cool pictures.

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Old 03-24-2015, 10:36 PM #8
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Talking Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanAnchors View Post
I haven't had a chance to go yet, but I'm involved in the burner scene back here in L.A./O.C. Most of the people are at least 25+ in age and very cool/responsible. With regard to the safety of others anyway...most of them like to party and/or play with fire/gadgets though haha (myself included). I think the burning man community would universally denounce the idiot that did this.

OT: There is a photographer in that community here that specializes in creating amazing long exposure portraits without any editing. He uses several lasers, LEDS, lightbars, etc. He takes some really cool pictures.
LOL

IE: You Are ID-ing a potential suspect?



---------------------

From the same reddit:

I was working as a Sandman when this happened. People, both in the crowd and from art cars, were shining lasers directly into our faces for much of the Man Burn. As upsetting as it was to learn that one of my fellow Sandmen had been blinded by the people that she was volunteering her time to help, I was frankly surprised that there was only one injury.

----------------------

So, these people essentially had lasers shining directly in their faces all night...

That can't be a good idea....and, really, its more of a horrifically bad idea, IMHO.


Also pasted from that source:

-------------

[–]maladroit2012 11 points 6 months ago

I spotted someone near me whipping a high power laser around on burn night. Ranger was trying to locate but didn't spot him...probably wasn't an attractive idea to rush over into the beam path either.

The guy looked exactly like the type of guy you'd imagine doing this. He saw me bracket him and put the laser away with the exact shit eating grin you imagine. If he'd pulled it out one more time it would have been the last. After hearing about the injury, I wish I'd spotted him sooner and pointed him out to our Ranger.

permalink

[–]tykeryerson 22 points 6 months ago

There was a dude waving around a SUPER powerful green laser at the burn... waaaay brighter than all the other peon lasers aimed at the man. Rangers repeatedly tried to get him to stop, and he kept ducking away, and taunting them even.

permalink
---------------------


So, SOMEONE was reported as having a MUCH more powerful green laser, and, apparently, taking great pleasure in taunting the Rangers with it.

WTF is WRONG with people....


sigh.

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Old 03-24-2015, 11:59 PM #9
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

what a sad thing... dont understand how others near this 'person' did nothing to stop him
very quickly- he deserved what LilWayne's 300lb body guard did to that 'fan' who was pissed because the show started at 3AM instead of midnight- which was WAY out of line and a suckerpunch to the EAR! held on and punched him again- he fell to the floor and did not get up for some time- he did not deserve that but this animal at BM would have been deserving of a real beat-down.

I am sending some $$ and so should you-

thanks for bringing this to the forum - its the 1st I have heard and 'statisticly speaking' BM is a very safe event, all things considered. Its still on my bucket list-

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[B]update
when i got to the donation site I saw this
[$19,986 of $20k
Raised by 434 people in 11 days
/B]

wow

close to goal in 11 days-BUT this lady will never get her eye back so I wont let that keep me from sending $ It is done with CCard I just now see - so I will get my card and try again
.. no paypal- but I understand-

update to the update
now >10, 290$ in 5 minutes and growing- help=& make a comment and include LPF- It was a 'person' who caused this NOT a 'tool' (or toy) but a laser cannot help her ATM ..only 'people' can- do that- Never made (yet) BM still time but. And if I coudld not bring lasers- no BM for me.
.. I have been to many very large gatherings like BM - and all things considered they are relatively safe events. Prime example was WOODSTOCK-. allegedly two deaths but neither from violence-1 herion OD and death by truck tire- IIRC a guy was sleeping under it - not sure '69 was a long time ago- also IIRC two babies were born-

IF you dont think this should be done for the Ranger then do it for the forum and us.





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Old 03-25-2015, 12:58 AM #10
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

Donated 20, tks. I wonder if these lasers are any amount safer with beam expanders on them? Maybe, but again, it keeps the power more concentrated at a distance too, just that there would be less power density to enter the pupil of the eye than without it, when close in. Still, probably too powerful anyway but this might be something to consider if using a laser outside. Best is not to use them in a way someone could be hit with it in the first place.
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:10 AM #11
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

I have attended BM multiple times and was co-organizer of a large camp in 2012. Its an amazing event full of amazing people but its also a 68,000 population municipality for the 7 days called Black Rock city. In any city this size you are going to have a portion of retarded A-holes like this idiot. Try not to let the actions a a few define the majority of attendees.

I have followed this story for a while now and it breaks my heart. I wish I was near that guy because I would have enjoyed busting that laser over his melon head.
To me what pisses me off as much is that this girl who volunteered her time to keep people safe and happy for the Burning Man Org yet they left her out to dry. An organization that profits tens of millions of dollars each event should be ashamed of themselves for not paying for her medical costs and lost wages due to the injury. SHAME ON YOU BURNING MAN ORG!

My camp chose not to attend this year and were forced to cancel a $25,000 art project because of the disorganization of the organizers. Their is no excuse for this women to have to endure the costs of her injury when her only fault was being a volunteer rather than an employee so those cheap bastards don't have to pay her workman's comp claim. I'm fed up with BM and have serious doubts I will return. Its not what it used to be and the greed of BMO sickens me more each year I go.

Please give what you can to help her and let her know the community of responsible laser hobbyist send their deepest sympathy's.
I really hope they find out who this prick was.
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Old 03-25-2015, 04:11 AM #12
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

I should note that this incident is exceptional. Most people are responsible and will just harmlessly light up the Man with their lasers (as I've done). Generally people aren't jerks at BM, and this is what makes this incident so regrettable. Each time some assholery happens in this world, in addition to people getting hurt, we stand to lose a lot of the freedoms we enjoy as responsible human beings.

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Old 03-25-2015, 04:36 AM #13
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

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Originally Posted by Bionic-Badger View Post
I should note that this incident is exceptional. Most people are responsible and will just harmlessly light up the Man with their lasers (as I've done). Generally people aren't jerks at BM, and this is what makes this incident so regrettable. Each time some assholery happens in this world, in addition to people getting hurt, we stand to lose a lot of the freedoms we enjoy as responsible human beings.

If you can't donate, your help in educating people about the dangers of lasers will also go a long way.
This year we planned on making small handbills about laser pointer saftey to hand to people we see with them but the idea was frowned upon by the powers that be because they felt it would creatE debris. That was really frsutrating. Im still going to do this at other festivals we are attending this year.
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Old 03-25-2015, 04:44 AM #14
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

This is insane. However I would hate to see lasers getting banned. What I would like to see however is every staff member wearing safety goggles to these events from now on. This will help minimize the damage from a stupid ass jerk shining his new "toy" at innocent people.
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Old 03-25-2015, 04:58 AM #15
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

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Originally Posted by nwfreefly View Post
An organization that profits tens of millions of dollars each event should be ashamed of themselves for not paying for her medical costs and lost wages due to the injury.
*sniff*

Does anyone smell that?

*sniff*

Something burning?

*sniff*

No, it smells more like a lawsuit.
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Old 03-25-2015, 03:19 PM #16
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Default Re: Permanent blindness from laser abuse at Burning Man

@BB thank you sharing this. This kind of situation infuriates me, and is exactly the kind of an example which will be trotted out to have laser banned altogether at some point.

Also maddening that BM is not standing by this woman at all.

Personally I no longer carry a laser with me except on very rare occasions, and when I do, it's now 99% of the time a AA powered pointer with a diffraction tip... with the tip none of the beams exceed 3mW.
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