Man hit in the eye with green laser wants to see them banned

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) - If you've walked on the beach at night there's a good chance you've seen green beams of light everywhere.

Playing with green lasers is increasing in popularity and you can find them in dozens of stores along the Grand Strand. But people shining them into aircrafts has hindered the U.S. Coast Guard from rescuing stranded boaters on two occasions in the last week.

When Murrells Inlet resident Dwain Patrick heard about the latest incident, it brought up memories of what happened to him earlier this month.

"That could've ended in disaster. That could've ended in the loss of human life," he says about the people the pilots were trying to save.

Because of the heat in the summer, Patrick likes to take walks on the beach at night, but one evening a pleasant stroll became unpleasant quickly.

"It was just about a war zone down there with the green lasers being shined on everything that moved," he explains. "I made the mistake of looking up at one of the balconies of one of the high rises and got hit right in the left eye with one of the laser beams and it was painful. The pain was excruciating. The pain was immediate. Vision was impaired in that eye. Thank goodness it's all cleared up by now."

Patrick says he lost his vision for two hours,"You could still see green. You could see the color of the laser and a little bit of blurriness but the pain was there."

And Patrick isn't alone. Dawn Powell is in town on vacation from Ohio. She experienced a similar situation, "The green light came right in the condo, came right across my eyes and my husband was like 'what was that? I said one of those people with those green lasers' they probably don't even realize they can be dangerous."

So what exactly is the attraction? Pam McMahan who's in town from the upstate for the weekend let her 12-year-old son buy one tonight. She says he's been asking for one for a couple years.

"He knows not to shine them in anyone's eyes or anything like that. He knows not to point it at anyone," says McMahan. She and her family are staying in Ocean Lakes and says they've banned the green lasers there.

But not everyone is responsible and understands they are dangerous. Patrick has written to Horry County Council and recently appeared before the Public Safety Committee to urge them to do something about the problem. He's now hoping to get rental property owners to ban them at their properties.

"They serve no use for function at all. As a matter of fact, the only function they have is to harass people," he adds. "I'd like to see a complete ban on their sale"

The City of North Myrtle Beach does not allow the sale of laser pointers to minors. Public Information Officer Pat Dowling says since council adopted the ordinance last November they've issued 10 warning tickets for laser pointer violations.