Speed Reads

Second chances

Emergency worker who sent Hawaii's false missile alert reassigned

Apparently, it's really, really hard to get fired from the Hawaii Emergency Management System.

The worker who erroneously sent a message Saturday morning warning 1.4 million Hawaiians that a missile was headed for the island did not lose his job over the mishap, Richard Rapoza, spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management System, said Monday. He would not reveal where the unidentified employee now works, but did say "the individual has been temporarily reassigned within our Emergency Operations Center pending the outcome of our internal investigation, and it is currently in a role that does not provide access to the warning system." He also said people who work at the center have received death threats over the scare.

At 8:05 a.m. Saturday, the worker launched a computer program to start an internal test and was given a choice: hit "test missile alert" or "missile alert." He picked "missile alert," and two minutes later Hawaiians looked down at their phones and read a terrifying message: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." It took a few minutes for U.S. Pacific Command to confirm there was no threat, but it wasn't until 8:45 that a new cellphone message went out: "False alarm. There is no threat or danger to the State of Hawaii." The Federal Communications Commission is investigating the incident, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has already brushed it off as an "honest mistake."