A man who suffered a heart attack minutes after saying what he thought were his last goodbyes to his children following Hawaii’s ballistic missile alert is suing the state for an undisclosed amount.
James Sean Shields and his girlfriend Brenda Reichel are suing the state and Vern Miyagi, former administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, or HI-EMA, for the false alarm they claim triggered the heart attack and caused panic throughout the state.
“The warning there was an imminent missile attack about to hit Hawaii was a substantial contributing factor in causing the heart attack … experienced by James Shields on Jan. 13,” said cardiologist John MacGregor, a professor of medicine at San Francisco School of Medicine and a doctor at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, in the lawsuit filed Tuesday. “Prior to that time, Mr. Shields had no known cardiac disease.”
The mistake occurred when HI-EMA sent a text alert Jan. 13 to most cellphones in the state warning of an incoming ballistic missile attack and advising that “This is not a drill.” HI-EMA did not send out an official retraction of the false alarm for 38 minutes.