WYFF (Greenville, SC) was covering a car accident on a local highway. The station had news chopper above the accident scene, when some idiot started shining a laser at the WYFF news chopper Sky 4.
The man repeatedly pointed the laser at Sky 4 until it hit the windshield of the helicopter, causing a blinding bright green flare that filled the front view out of the chopper.
"When he hit us with that laser, the first thing I saw was the whole cockpit lit up green," said pilot Phil Tate.
WYFF News 4 assignment editor Jimmy McCray coordinated with Tate and the Greenville County Sheriff's Office via phone, and they were able to provide a detailed description of the vehicle, including a license plate number. Deputies pulled the truck over and questioned the man in the reflective vest when the truck was stopped on I-85.
Tate said he has been told that the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office will be speaking with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI, and they will determine whether federal charges will be pursued in the incident. FAA officials in Atlanta confirmed Thursday that they are also investigating the incident. As of Thursday afternoon, no charges had been filed.
Interfering with the operation of an aircraft is a felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, the FAA can impose a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for each violation.