INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As an alert went out to people in Hawaii warning of an incoming missile, Hoosiers vacationing or living there faced uncertainty and fear. They had to wait nearly 40 minutes to learn the alert was a false alarm.
Carissa Johnson moved to Hawaii because her husband is in the Marine Corps. She said she was just going through her phone on Saturday morning when the initial missile alert came in.
"My heart just dropped when it said ‘this is not a drill,’" Johnson said.
Johnson was alone at her home in Kailua on Oahu because her husband is now deployed in Japan. She shared what was going through her mind in those moments.
"Is this going to be the last day I’m going to be alive?" Johnson said. "I literally feared for my life. I was thinking 'I’m never going to say goodbye to my husband.'"
There was confusion elsewhere in Hawaii as tourists took shelter in hotel basements. Samuel Hickman, from Avon, was one of the many vacationing in Hawaii as this all unfolded.
"It was a little concerning at first because like I said, you weren’t sure if it was a scam or something," Hickman said. "We’re here, we’re five or four thousand miles away, with no kind of warning or anything. It was a little bit, you know, disconcerting."
As the minutes went on, messages from concerned friends and family in Indiana started coming in.
"By the time my mom got on the phone, I was in tears," Johnson said. "I was telling her 'I’m freaking out, I don’t know what to do.'"
"Everybody was freaking out back home," Hickman said. "I started talking to a few people. I’m like ‘No we’re good, we’re still here. I haven’t seen no missiles fly over.’"
Eventually, they received the update stating there was no missile threat. The governor in Hawaii said the error was caused by someone pressing the wrong button.
"Then I got the message it was a mistake," Johnson said. "I felt really relieved but also, at the same time, why is it taking this long to send out that notification? We could’ve been in trouble by now. Somebody could be hurt from panicking."