Red Laser Blinds MTA Driver at the Wheel of Packed Bus

An MTA bus driver in New York City was temporarily blinded after a red laser was shone in his eyes, and now police are looking for the person responsible.

Kenneth Johnson was driving his bus in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx on Wednesday when a passenger at the back of the bus pointed the laser toward him, hitting him in the eyes.

"I looked up at my center console and that’s when I got the laser shot into my eyes," Johnson said.

The 52-year-old was manning the bus in the middle of rush hour when the laser hit and blinded him.

"It was like looking into a bright light," Johnson said. "It was a little terrifying at first because when I saw the beam I wasn’t sure exactly what it was."

Johnson hit the brakes and pulled over. The person with the red laser ran away.

Police are reviewing video from the bus to see if they can identify the attacker.

TWU Local 100, a union that represents bus drivers, said it's the first time the union has heard of a city bus driver being singled out. Reports of lasers pointed at aircraft have become increasingly common.

"Planes, helicopters have automatic pilots, they even have co-pilots. Bus drivers are by themselves," said Frank Austin, a TWU Local 100 head.

Johnson, who visited an eye doctor Thursday, doesn’t appear to have any permanent damage. He has been driving buses for 24 years and hopes to get back on the job soon.

The bus attack came less than a month after NBC New York’s Chopper 4 was hit by a green laser. The helicopter was heading toward downtown Brooklyn to cover the arrest of an alleged bus thief when it was struck by the laser, which can be seen in Chopper 4 footage.

Authorities, including NYPD and the Federal Aviation Administration, were contacted and guided to the location — a health food restaurant on Fulton Street — with the help of Chopper 4. Two people were taken into custody, and one of them, a 20-year-old cook at the eatery, was arrested, police said.

Contact Us