Coast Guard, Horry Co. seek solution to green laser dilemma

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Green lasers have created a serious problem for the Coast Guard in the Grand Strand, bringing missions to an abrupt halt at times.

The Coast Guard says any time a green laser is shot at one of their aircraft they have to end the flight.

"Every single time I send a crew in, they get hit by a laser, and then they have to land and they're not able to search. So unfortunately it's like sending anyone into a bad thunderstorm," said Greg Fuller a U.S. Coast Guard Commanding Officer.

The Coast is now asking the Horry County Council to enforce rules on the green lasers for the protection of the guardsmen and the protection of the people they work to save, and presented those concerned during the council's Committee as a Whole meeting Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.

The director of the Horry County Department of Airports says there have been 70 reports of aircraft being impacted by green lasers since May 2012. They're also talking with the Horry County Council about possible restrictions on the lasers.

"We are looking at reducing or limiting the power of the lasers that are sold in our community and in the county so that they're less impactful and have less range," says Mike La Pier, Director of the Horry County Department of Airports.

It's unclear when a possible ordinance could be put in place in Horry County. However, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach have age restrictions for buying the lasers.

WMBF News attended the regular town council meeting in Surfside Beach Tuesday night where new council member Beth Kohlmann was being inducted when the issue of green lasers was brought up.

Chief of Police Mike Frederick addressed the crowd saying that until Horry Co. reaches a decision they will continue issuing disorderly conduct tickets.

Many of those cited were between the ages of 18 and 50.

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