Lawsuit: Missile False Alarm Caused Heart Attack

Two plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2018 6:59 PM CST
Lawsuit: Missile False Alarm Caused Heart Attack
This smartphone screen capture shows the false incoming ballistic missile emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system.   (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

A Hawaii man claims that a false alert about incoming ballistic missiles issued in that state earlier this year caused him to have a heart attack. On Jan. 13, Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency fired off an alert to cellphones warning, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.” A lawsuit filed Tuesday says James Sean Shields and Brenda Reichel, both listed as plaintiffs, “believed the message to be true and were extremely frightened and thought they were going to die,” NBC reports. According to the suit, the pair, who lived in Honolulu, were heading to Sandy Beach when the alert came, per KGMB. “If they were going to die,” the suit says, “They might as well die together on the beach.” So they continued to the beach. Once they arrived, they began to call loved ones.”

After calling his kids, Shields began to have severe chest pains, per CBS. He went to a clinic, where he suffered cardiac arrest and was resuscitated. Around the same time, some 30 minutes after the missile alert, the state sent another message saying the alert was sent in error. Per KGMB, the suit says that Shields hadn’t had any heart conditions previously. Vern T. Miyagi, former Emergency Management Agency administrator, as well as unnamed state employees are named in the suit, which seeks unspecified damages. “We’re going to reserve any comment until we have had a chance to review the claims," a state attorney tells CBS. According to reports, an elderly man fell, a 37-year-old woman had a car accident, and a 37-year-old woman called 911 with anxiety in connection to the false alarm. (This man claims that licorice caused his heart problems.)

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