It was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened, sending thousands of people into shear panic.
Phones going off all over the islands of Hawaii with the same urgent message – a ballistic missile threat inbound to the island.
Bakersfield resident Kim Jenkins and his wife just got to Hawaii Friday for a week long vacation on the island of Maui.
Saturday morning was anything but paradise.
“We were in our rooms just having coffee like normal and all of a sudden all the alarms went off in the building,” Jenkins said. “The alarms went off through the fire escape deal and told us this was not a drill and we were looking down at the beach, phones went off and every alert on our phones went off saying this is an incoming missile.”
Jenkins said they were instructed to use the stairs to go down to the lobby.
“There was a thousand people holding the stairs, down stairs because they wanted us between the cement incase the bomb hit,” Jenkins said.
Just over a hundred miles away on the island of Oahu, Tehachapi native Stephanie Murray and her husband hunkered down in their bathtub with their dog Ellie, praying for safety.
The couple moved to Hawaii less than a year ago.
“It’s really the only spot we have without any windows and and were sitting in the tub just kind of waiting,” Murray said. “It’s terrifying. You don’t know what’s going to happen you don’t know what you’re suppose to be expecting.”
Murray made the call to her father over 2,000 miles away in Tehachapi for what she though was a final goodbye.
“I was like ‘Dad I don’t want to freak you out, but I got this alert on my phone. Do you know anything?'” Murray said. “He was like ‘No I haven’t seen anything’ and I immediately heard him typing, like trying to figure out what’s going on and I was like ‘Okay well I don’t know how much time I have if this is real, I just need you to know like I love you and I don’t know, I was just like I don’t know what to do, like I don’t know what to do but just tell you that I love you and to remind you.'”
It’s a phone call no parent should ever have to receive.
“It was one of the most devastating feelings having one of your children call you and say good-bye,” Murray’s father Jim Wallace. “It’s something I have never felt before, because it was the good-bye, not ‘bye, see ya later’. She actually was calling to say ‘good-bye, I’ll never see you again.'”
Over 30 minutes later, a false alarm message was sent out.
Relief of safety filled the island as people called their loved ones, but for many, anger and question as to how this could have happened set in.
“Why should anybody have to go through that because it wasn’t real,” Wallace said. “it’s not like it was a flash flood warning. This was life or death warning.”