A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules crew aiding in the search for 12 missing Marines was forced to alter their course this evening after the aircraft was hit by a green laser originating from Haleiwa Beach Park.
A Coast Guard spokeswoman said that had crew members been directly exposed to the laser, the aircraft would have been forced to land and the crew members examined.
Laser exposure can cause temporary blindness. Directing a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal crime.
The incident has been reported to the police and Coast Guard investigative services.
Earlier in the evening, the U.S. Marine Corps released the names of the 12 Marines missing after two helicopters crashed off Oahu’s North Shore on Thursday. They are:
» Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas.
» Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
» Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri.
The family of Roche praised rescuers for trying to find him and the other Marines aboard the helicopters.
“We believe the Marines and Coast Guard are doing everything they can to bring Kevin and his fellow Marines home safely, and we are grateful to everyone involved in the rescue,” said a family statement distributed by brother-in-law Anthony Kuenzel in St. Louis.
» Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama.
» Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24,Chaska, Minnesota.
Semolina wanted to be a Registered Nurse when he left the Marines, his uncle, Ryan Bachand, told the Associated Press.
“He was waiting to hear from a school he had applied to and was hoping to hear next week,” said Bachand, who described Semolina as an impressive young man, respectful and positive.
The family still holds out hope that he and the others missing will be found alive, Bachand said.
But as hopes have dimmed, Bachand said he would cherish memories of spending time with Semolina when Bachand was a fishing guide in northern Minnesota. “I was able to teach him how to fish,” he said.
A GoFundMe page to raise money to send Semolina’s parents to Hawaii had raised nearly $10,000 from 226 people by late this evening.
» Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.
» Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina.
» Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama.
» Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas.
» Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida.
» Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts.
Orlando is a flight crew chief, the Massachusetts State Police said in a statement.
The family is thanking people for their prayers. While monitoring the search effort, they are also thankful for the hard work of search and rescue crews.
» Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.
Hart lives with his wife on base in Hawaii, The Oregonian reported.
Family friend Christina Brown described Hart as upbeat and energetic and said he enjoys nature, boating and wakeboarding.
Hart’s former high school football coach and teacher, Alan Kirby, told the newspaper that Hart was a positive kid who always had a smile on his face and called him a quick learner on the gridiron.
Earlier in the day, the Coast Guard widened its search from the North Shore to Waianae for the 12 missing Marines.
Also, three teams of 10 Marines and firefighters were walking the shoreline from Haleiwa to Turtle Bay today, searching for survivors.
“The mission is still search and rescue,” said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Tim Irish this afternoon. “The mission’s highest priority is to recover survivors first and foremost and any type of salvage operation for the air frame is secondary.”
Among the numerous agencies searching offshore are the Coast Guard with two cutters, the Navy with two destroyers and a P-3 Orion patrol plane, and Honolulu lifeguards on personal watercraft, Irish said.
More assets were brought in today and communication between agencies has been escalating, he said.
As of this afternoon, no survivors had been found.
Two Marine Corps helicopters carrying six crew members each went down off the North Shore while on a nighttime training mission just before midnight Thursday.
The Coast Guard said today that it expanded the search to between Waianae and Kahuku and out to sea eight miles.
“We’d like to reiterate to the public to use caution along the north and west shores of Oahu as the search continues,”said Lt. Scott Carr, Coast Guard spokesman. “Debris should be treated as hazardous material.”
He asked anyone seeing debris from the crash to report it to the Marines at 808-257-8458 or 808-257-3023.
He said rescuers searched more than 5,750 square miles by 8 a.m. today, the second day of the search mission.
Carr said other assisting agencies are the Navy, Army, Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department, and Honolulu lifeguards.
The wind and swells have diminished since Friday, but rescuers continue to battle high seas. Weather conditions are reportedly 8 to 12 mph winds, 13 foot swells with surf up to 20-feet and scattered showers, the Coast Guard said.
A high surf advisory for Oahu’s North Shore remains in effect through this evening. A small craft advisory has been issued by the National Weather Service and is in effect for all of the main Hawaiian Islands through Sunday morning.
Marines are investigating the cause of the crash.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.