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Green laser forces Coast Guard to quit search & rescue efforts

Published: Aug. 9, 2012 at 9:57 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2012 at 4:01 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) The US Coast Guard says it was forced to quit another air search because of green lasers along the South Carolina coast.

Officials say a Charleston-based helicopter crew had just begun searching near Garden City Beach yesterday morning when they were temporarily blinded and forced to land. It's the third time in three weeks that it happened.

The US Coast Guard is expected to address the Horry County Council on Tuesday about the growing problem with the lasers. Horry County Council member Gary Loftus said the lasers are a problem, but finding a solution isn't easy.

"We know it's a problem. We don't know what the solution is," Loftus said, "We can pass all the ordinances in the world but if you can't enforce them, they're useless, you know, they're feel good. And we want to do a heck of a lot more than feel good."

Loftus said often times the lasers are beamed from high-rise hotels, so for police to be able to find exactly where the green dot is coming from, is sometimes impossible.

"Here again, the enforcement is extremely problematic, no matter what we pass. So, that's what we have to deal with is the enforcement. And it won't be on a proactive basis, it'll be on a reactive basis in that we get a call. We can't be out there on the beach looking for laser pointers all the time," Loftus said.

Loftus said, he thinks to solve the problem, the county would have to ban stores from selling the lasers. Loftus added, he's not sure how council would be able to do that.

Paulo Santos works at a Myrtle Beach beach store and said even with a ban, stores like his would be able to find ways to continue to sell the popular green lasers.

"It's very simple. We just remove and we just sell in another county. Or North Myrtle Beach or Surfside where we have locations at those points. The ban won't affect us," Santos said.

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