Hawaii Emergency Agency Worker Says Was Sure Attack Was Real

The fired employee responsible for sending out an emergency ballistic missile alert that froze the U.S. state of Hawaii for 38 minutes last month says he feels awful about what happened.

In an interview with ABC News, the worker - who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety - said he never heard the defense drill described as such while it happened and that he explicitly heard the phrase "this is not a drill".

He said, "I heard the middle of the message and the end of it", which he said announced, "This is not a drill".

HI-EMA's investigation states the drill alert was called in to employees at 8:06 a.m. that Saturday and the words "exercise exercise exercise" were announced "loud and clear" over the telephone speaker.

The man said he has had difficulty eating and sleeping, adding: "It's been hell for me the last couple weeks".

About 10 minutes after the initial alert, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) tweeted there was no threat. According to the Associated Press, the man's superiors said they knew for years that he had problems performing his job. Reporter: But it took almost 40 minutes for the alert to be retracted. "I don't hear the beginning of the message coming across because what we're supposed to do is hit speakerphone on the line so everyone can hear the message".

"Reading the newspapers and seeing the false information out there, it's very hurtful and I feel a lot of guilt from what has happened", the former HI-EMA employee said. The supervisor played a simulated missile notice that mimicked an actual message from the USA military's Pacific Command and warned worker of the fake threat.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said he was notified of the false alarm just two minutes after the alert went out to residents' phones and TVs, but waited 11 minutes to tell the public because he had forgotten his Twitter password.

"I heard, 'This is not a drill.'". It was a sense of urgency to put it in place as soon as possible.

"That's a mystery to me", the employee said.

Maj. Gen. Joe Logan, Hawaii's state adjutant general, said Vern Miyagi, administrator of the state emergency management agency, resigned Tuesday. The state did not name him. Another employee was being suspended without pay, officials said. "It's just a big failure of the system".

Later, when asked what he would have changed about that morning, the man added, "I can't say that I would do anything differently based on what I saw and heard".

The fallout over the incident didn't stop with the former worker.

Officials said the man refused to cooperate with state or federal investigations beyond providing a written statement.

  • Rogelio Becker