STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Hawaii false missile alert 'button pusher' is fired

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee who triggered the false ballistic missile alert earlier this month ha...

Posted: Jan 31, 2018 11:24 AM
Updated: Jan 31, 2018 11:24 AM

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee who triggered the false ballistic missile alert earlier this month has been fired, the state adjutant general said Tuesday.

The unnamed employee said he didn't know it was an exercise, even though five other employees in the room heard "exercise, exercise, exercise, which indicates that it is a drill," an investigating officer told reporters.

Hawaii officials finish investigation into false alarm

Agency administrator resigns

Retired Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira said, "When it became apparent that the real-world alert was issued," the employee who pushed the button "seemed confused, he froze and another employee had to take over his responsibilities."

The employee "had a history of confusing drill and real-world events," Oliveira said.

The firing was the latest fallout after an internal investigation found "that insufficient management controls, poor computer software design and human factors contributed" to the alert and a delayed correction message on January 13.

Maj. Gen. Joe Logan, Hawaii's state adjutant general, said Vern Miyagi, administrator of the state emergency management agency, resigned Tuesday.

Miyagi accepted full responsibility for the incident and the actions of his employees, Logan said. Another employee is in the process of being suspended without pay and a third employee resigned before any disciplinary action was taken, Logan said.

Logan said he appointed Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi, director of joint staff with the Hawaii National Guard, as interim agency administrator.

Recommendations are released

Oliveira made two dozen recommendations, including eliminating practice drills during a shift change, stronger confirmation prompts for those sending an alert and improved training.

Oliveira's findings echoed an earlier Federal Communications Commission report.

The FCC report said the emergency management worker thought the state was under attack and sent out the warning that sent residents into panic.

"Many things went wrong in Hawaii," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a published statement. "I don't say this for the purpose of casting blame or disparaging Hawaiian officials. We simply need to identify the problems in order to fix them -- not just in Hawaii, but anywhere else where they may exist."

The warning worker said he heard "this is not a drill" but did not hear "exercise, exercise, exercise" in the drill call and sent out an incoming ballistic missile alert throughout the state, according to the FCC.

"According to the written statement, this day shift warning officer therefore believed that the missile threat was real," the FCC said.

The worker would not speak to FCC officials in person and submitted the account of the incident in writing, the report noted.

The event sent the state into panic for 38 minutes until officials sent out a message saying the warning was a mistake.

Gov. David Ige came under criticism over the delay and he later said that he couldn't hop on Twitter because he forgot his password.

Asked at Tuesday's press conference whether he showed a lack of leadership, Ige said: "We are definitely committed to providing a warning to the public of impending natural or manmade disasters."

"We already made the changes required to assure that it never happens again," the governor added.

Chaos on January 13

About 8:06 a.m. on January 13, one employee initiated the ballistic missile alert drill around the time of a shift change at the emergency operation center. The words "exercise, exercise, exercise" were uttered, which is the normal procedure for such drills, an incident timeline said.

The fired employee later incorrectly activated the "real-world" alert code.

Alert messages appeared on the cell phones of agency employees, setting off a series of phone calls to the operations center.

"There is no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii -- this is a drill," one employee at the center later broadcast to counties on a warning system, according to the timeline.

At one point, one employee directed the fired employee to cancel the message on the alert system. But the fired employee "just sat there and didn't respond," the timeline said. Another employee seized the fired employee's mouse and sent out a cancellation message.

"At no point did Employee 1 assist in the process."

News media were contacted and the state agency reached out to local, state and federal officials. It also tweeted that there was no missile threat.

About 8:45 a.m. -- 38 minutes after the false alert went out -- a message was posted through the emergency alert system on local television, radio and audio broadcasts, and a television crawler banner. The message said: "False Alert. There is no missile threat to Hawaii."

FCC' Hawaii didn't have 'reasonable safeguards'

Apart from Hawaii's investigation, the FCC had also been looking into the incident, as the state came under criticism for lacking "reasonable safeguards.

Last week, an FCC official told a Senate committee hearing that the employee who sent out the false missile alert was not cooperating with its investigation. The person responsible for the mistake was disciplined and reassigned, but not fired, Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency said earlier this month.

There were two "troubling things" in the FCC preliminary findings, Pai said.

The state "didn't have reasonable safeguards in place to prevent human error from resulting in the tranmission of a false alert," the statement said. The second main problem, Pai said, was there was no plan of action if a false alert went out.

West Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
86° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 94°
Kokomo
Cloudy
83° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 92°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
86° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 90°
Fowler
Partly Cloudy
86° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 94°
Williamsport
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 92°
Crawfordsville
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 90°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 90°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 91°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 91°
Logansport
Mostly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 85°
The air will still be pretty bad this weekend with intense, humidity & a few storms.
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 763688

Reported Deaths: 13963
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1048591803
Lake567611029
Allen42619698
St. Joseph37234568
Hamilton37098426
Elkhart29678469
Tippecanoe23321230
Vanderburgh23086404
Porter19530327
Johnson18734391
Hendricks17994321
Madison13446345
Clark13429198
Vigo12779255
LaPorte12528224
Monroe12474178
Delaware11087198
Howard10599237
Kosciusko9729123
Hancock8699149
Bartholomew8228157
Warrick8020157
Floyd7961181
Grant7330181
Wayne7221201
Boone7137105
Morgan6878142
Marshall6320116
Dubois6255118
Cass6083111
Dearborn597878
Noble595290
Henry5939111
Jackson514077
Shelby508297
Lawrence4890127
Gibson460596
Montgomery453692
Clinton452355
DeKalb451185
Harrison449476
Whitley413945
Huntington411581
Steuben409560
Miami403773
Jasper399355
Knox387091
Putnam383462
Wabash366983
Adams350456
Ripley350471
Jefferson340386
White338854
Daviess3084100
Wells301981
Greene292085
Decatur291492
Fayette285864
Posey280235
Scott277458
LaGrange276772
Clay272548
Washington252037
Randolph246283
Jennings237549
Spencer237231
Fountain233150
Starke229759
Owen220959
Sullivan218643
Fulton207445
Jay202832
Carroll196122
Orange190556
Perry189039
Vermillion179544
Rush176927
Franklin171635
Tipton171447
Parke153116
Pike140934
Blackford137732
Pulaski122848
Newton122136
Benton108915
Brown105443
Crawford104816
Martin92515
Warren87515
Switzerland8308
Union73510
Ohio58111
Unassigned0428

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events