‘You died for 11 minutes.’ Lawsuit claims false missile alert triggered man’s heart attack

Local News

A Hawaii Kai couple is suing the state over January’s false missile alert.

According to a lawsuit filed against the State of Hawaii, Vern Miyagi, then-administrator for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, unspecified state employees and John Does, James Shields says the alert caused him such great anxiety, he suffered a heart attack.

Shields told us he and his girlfriend, co-plaintiff Brenda Reichel, were enjoying the morning at Sandy Beach when the alert was sent out.

“I feel silly. I had a panic attack and I had a heart attack. I believed it was coming. I accepted it, texted my kids, and said I love you,” Shields said.

The lawsuit states that Shields and Reichel believed there was nothing they could do to protect themselves, and figured if they were going to die, they might as well die together on the beach.

“I accepted it and right about then, I got dizzy and sick, really dizzy and sick, and I couldn’t stop getting sick. I tried to cool myself off in the water and it didn’t work,” Shields said.

The couple drove to the closest clinic in Hawaii Kai, where Shields says he went into cardiac arrest.

“I remember walking in and putting my hand on the doctor’s shoulder and walking into the examining room. I sat on the table and that’s the last thing I remember until they zapped me with the paddles,” he said.

Shields says he’s always been strong and healthy. The lawsuit cites a cardiovascular specialist who said:

“In my opinion, the warning there was an imminent missile attack about to hit Hawaii was a substantial contributing factor in causing the heart attack and cardiac arrest experienced by James Shields on January 13, 2018. Prior to that time, Mr. Shields had no known cardiac disease. Within about 15 minutes of learning of the impending missile attack, Mr. Shields had developed symptoms of an acute myocardial infarction. Shortly after that, he experienced a cardiac arrest.”

“I went back and talked to the doctor a couple weeks after coming out of the hospital and she told me, ‘You died for 11 minutes.’ The poor lady had cracked all my ribs in my chest. She went for it,” Shields said.

Shields says he decided to file suit against the state because he believes to this day that no one has taken responsibility for the event.

“Our government is supposed to protect us, not scare the hell out of us,” he said.

Click here to view the entire complaint.

Both the Department of the Attorney General and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency say they plan to thoroughly review the complaint and have no comment at this time.

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