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Ex-Hawaii official now says he resigned after false missile alert

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    Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator Vern Miyagi, left, and executive officer Toby Clairmont discuss contingency plans for North Korean missile attacks at the agency’s office inside Diamond Head Crater in July.

A Hawaii emergency management official who said last week that his retirement had nothing to do with a mistaken missile alert that stirred panic statewide now says it was because of the fallout from the warning.

Toby Clairmont said Wednesday that he stepped down as executive officer of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency because it was clear action would be taken against agency leaders after the Jan. 13 alert.

“From my perspective, the mishap was horrendous, unspeakable really. The people we were trying to protect were frightened out of their wits over what appeared at first to be a simple error,” he wrote on his Facebook page today, adding that he submitted his resignation on Jan. 23. “No one asked me to resign and I had nothing to do with the mishap. My resignation and return to retirement was a decision I made alone simply because as emergency managers we are charged with the responsibility to protect the people and we let the people down. I believe that leaders need to take personal responsibility when they work in the public trust. I did what was asked and expected of me, including surrendering my career when I felt that was necessary.”

State officials revealed changes to the agency Tuesday after an internal investigation. They said Administrator Vern Miyagi resigned, the worker who sent the alert was fired, a second employee quit before disciplinary action was taken and another was being suspended.

Clairmont acknowledges he’s the employee who quit but says it’s unfair to lump him in with the others because it implies he was about to be disciplined.

>> See the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s full coverage of Hawaii’s missile alert scare.

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