- KCNA/via Reuters
- A local news anchor from Houston who was in Honolulu, Hawaii on Saturday posted a screenshot showing several frightened text messages she received after a false emergency alert went out warning of an impending ballistic missile threat to the state.
- The anchor, Sara Donchey, said on Twitter that her family lives in the state.
- “They were hiding in the garage,” Donchey tweeted. “My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken.”
Sara Donchey, an anchor at local NBC affiliate KPRC2 in Houston, was in Honolulu, Hawaii on Saturday when she woke up to a string of terrified texts from her family after an emergency alert went out about an incoming ballistic missile threat.
The alert, which sent people in the state into a panicked frenzy, turned out to be a false alarm.
Lt. Commander Joe Nawrocki of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the agency in charge of providing aerospace warnings in North America, told BuzzFeed News, “There is absolutely no incoming ballistic missile threat to Hawaii right now.”
“My phone’s blowing up right now,” Nawrocki added.
So was Donchey’s.
She posted a screenshot on Twitter which showed the initial emergency alert, followed by at least five text messages from her family and friends.
“Wtf is this???????” said one message. Attached to it was a screenshot of the alert.
“Missile in Hawaii,” read another.
“Sis,” said a third message. It was followed by a text in all caps, which read, “IF YOURE SLEEPING WAKE UP AN CALL US IMMEDIATELY.”
“Honey take shelter,” another one said. “I love you.”
Donchey said her family was also in Hawaii.
“They were hiding in the garage,” she tweeted. “My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken.”
This was my phone when I woke up just now. I'm in Honolulu, #Hawaii and my family is on the North Shore. They were hiding in the garage. My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/m6EKxH3QqQ
— Sara Donchey (@KPRC2Sara) January 13, 2018
“What happened today is totally inexcusable,” Hawii Sen. Brian Schatz said. “The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.”
The White House deputy press secretary released a statement saying President Donald Trump had been briefed on the incident.
“This was purely a state exercise,” the statement said.
“It was part of a drill that was going on,” they said.
A second alert went out about 45 minutes after the first one.
“There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False alarm,” the message said.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige later told reporters that the false alarm was sent due to an employee pushing the “wrong button” during a shift change. He added that officials will investigate the error to ensure it never happens again.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Sara Donchey is a local news anchor based in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is based in Houston, Texas and was in Honolulu when the emergency alert went out.