Hawaii man says he's devastated about sending false missile alert

Hawaii man says he's devastated about sending false missile alert

A former Hawaii state worker who sent a false missile alert last month says he is devastated for causing panic but was "100 per cent sure" at the time that the attack was real.


Key points

  • The alert warning was mistakenly sent by a man in his 50s
  • He says he now fears for his safety
  • The alerts agency had no plan on how to correct a false warning

The man, in his 50s, spoke to reporters on the condition that he not be identified because he fears for his safety after receiving threats.

He said the on-duty call he received on January 13 did not sound like a drill, and sounded like a real warning from US Pacific Command.

However, state officials have said other workers clearly heard the word "exercise" repeated several times.

The man said it felt like he had been hit with a "body blow" when he realised it was just a drill, and he has had difficulty eating and sleeping since.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency fired him.

The man's superiors said they knew for years that he had problems performing his job.

The worker had mistakenly believed drills for tsunami and fire warnings were actual events, and colleagues were not comfortable working with him, the state said.

His supervisors counselled him but kept him for a decade in a position that had to be renewed each year.

The ex-worker disputed the claims, saying he was not aware of any performance problems.

But the problems at the agency went beyond the one employee.

Federal and state reports found the agency had a vague checklist for missile alerts, allowing workers to interpret the steps they should follow differently.

Managers did not require a second person to sign off on alerts before they were sent, and the agency lacked any preparation on how to correct a false warning.

AP