Southern Illinois native's terrifying ordeal during Hawaii missi - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois native's terrifying ordeal during Hawaii missile scare

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A screenshot shows part of the message a southern Illinois native sent his mom during missile scare in Hawaii. A screenshot shows part of the message a southern Illinois native sent his mom during missile scare in Hawaii.

WSIL -- A southern Illinois native found himself caught in chaos on Saturday morning, after a missile alert, which turned out to be false, was sent out across Hawaii.

Jerrod Pettigrew moved to Hawaii in 2014, while in the military, and decided to stay.

He said he was at work this morning when everyone's cell phones started going off, alerting them to an inbound missile.

"All of our phones started vibrating. We thought maybe it was a flood warning," said Pettigrew. 

The message on phones read as follows: "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill." 

As chaos ensued, Pettigrew, the manager at an automotive repair shop, tried to remain calm. 

"Everyone was freaking out, running through the streets," he said. "I seen people running down the sidewalk. There were people yelling. There were random people coming into my shop asking to come to cover."

Pettigrew said people began calling their loved ones.

He sent his mother, back home in southern Illinois, a message -- a screen shot of his phone, with the alert across it. 

Then, he called her.

"I let her know that I loved her and miss her and that I didn't know what was happening," said Pettigrew.

About 20 minutes later, he learned it was a false alert and called his mom back.

Hawaii's governor said an emergency management employee pushed the wrong button.

Officials are working to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission announced the agency would be launching a full investigation into how the alert was sent out.

Although Pettigrew said the local military presence in Hawaii provides lots of reassurance, given the constant threat posed by North Korea, he said the false alert provided a real warning.

"It made us realize how unprepared we actually are, because everyone was like 'What the heck do we do?'" said Pettigrew. "So hopefully this, if anything, teaches everybody to get ready, because it could definitely happen any day."
 

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