Man who had heart attack after Hawaii missile alert sues

  • This Jan. 13, 2018 file smartphone screen capture shows a false incoming ballistic missile emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system. A man who suffered a heart attack shortly after Hawaii mistakenly issued an alert about a ballistic missile is suing the state. The lawsuit filed in state court Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, said the sending of the false missile alert and failing to cancel it in a timely manner was a substantial factor in causing James Sean Shields’ heart attack on Jan. 13. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

HONOLULU — A man who suffered a heart attack shortly after Hawaii mistakenly issued an alert about a ballistic missile filed a lawsuit against the state on Tuesday.

The false missile alert and the state’s failure to cancel it in a timely manner was a substantial factor in causing James Sean Shields’ heart attack on Jan. 13, the lawsuit said.

His girlfriend Brenda Reichel joined the lawsuit, having suffered “emotional upset” from watching him almost die on several occasions.

Their lawsuit names the state of Hawaii and the then-administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Vern Miyagi. It names unidentified state employees, individuals and entities responsible for the missile alert. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

“We’re going to reserve any comment until we have had a chance to review the claims,” said Richard Rapoza, a spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency

State attorney general spokesman Krishna F. Jayaram said his office will review the complaint carefully and respond in due course. Miyagi declined to comment.

A Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee mistakenly sent the missile alert to cellphones and broadcasters on Jan. 13, triggering widespread panic until the agency sent another message 38 minutes later notifying people it was a false alarm.

The lawsuit recounts how the couple was heading from their townhome in Hawaii Kai to Sandy Beach on Saturday morning when they received the alert on their cellphones.

“Both plaintiffs believe this message to be true and were extremely frightened and thought they were shortly going to die,” the lawsuit said. They decided if they were going to die, they might as well die together on the beach, the lawsuit said.

Reichel’s son, who is in the Hawaii Army National Guard, called her saying the threat was real and asked what they planned to do to seek shelter. The couple called their loved ones as they drove to the beach. Shields began to feel a severe and painful burning in his chest after he called his son and daughter.

Shortly after, he went to a community clinic, where he suffered cardiac arrest. A doctor resuscitated him, while arriving paramedics assisted him further. He was diagnosed with a myocardial infarction or heart attack after he arrived at Straub Hospital, the lawsuit said.

  1. harry oyama November 29, 2018 3:52 am Reply

    He should also go after that incompetent person who “pushed the button”.

  2. alien November 29, 2018 7:10 am Reply

    This alert was no accident, no one was really held accountable and are Governor Lied Lied Lied Lied Lied Lied Lied Lied to us again and again and again and again and again.

  3. Charlie Chimknee November 29, 2018 8:33 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    Sounds like the Missile Alert was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Seems like it would take decades of heart tissue disease and or degeneration or fatty heart overload to allow 1 psychological,event to set off an infarct or heart attack.

    How many other heart attacks were there in Hawaii that morning? Not missile alerts or attacks but heart attacks.

    Soon there will be a drug to treat Missile Alerts as a cause of Heart Attack.

    What came first the Heart Attack waiting to happen, or the Missile Alert.

    Can modern see inside our bodies tools like MRI, see if a heart muscle has the same fat on it that the Rib Eye or T-Bone or Pork Butt has on it that the person has been eating for 3-5 decades ? If so, you are an attack waiting to happen…accelerated by a missile alert. That’s called heart attack complication.



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