Laser used to blind Coast Guard aircrew during search, again

GARDEN CITY BEACH, S.C. (WCSC) - Another U.S. Coast Guard helicopter had to suspend its search this morning after a green laser was used to blind the aircrew.

A crew flying from Air Facility Charleston was searching for the source of three orange flares near Garden City Beach, S.C. around 1:45 a.m. Wednesday morning when a green laser was directed at the flight crew.

According to a release, one crewman received direct laser exposure and was not cleared to fly again until Wednesday afternoon.

A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Georgetown took over for the search. Officials say another helicopter was sent out at dawn, but the source of the flares was never located.

This is the third time in three weeks green lasers have interfered with a Coast Guard search along the Grand Strand.

Commander Gregory Fuller with Air Station Savannah says the entire Grand Strand has been deemed a very high risk area because of the laser incidents, and he is warning aircrews.

"We've been very fortunate that the green laser incidents haven't yet resulted in tragedy," said Fuller. "But every time we send our aircrews to the Grand Strand, we're telling them to fly into the equivalent of a storm, where it's almost guaranteed they'll be hit."

Shining any laser at an aircraft is a federal offense.

The Grand Strand is a name given to the beach region between Little River, S.C. and Georgetown, S.C.

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