Medford, Ore.– Hawaiians woke to a disturbing alert. A “ballisttic missile threat” text popping up on phones across the islands disrupted what was otherwise a blissful weekend morning.
While emergency officials soon relayed word to a panicked community that the alarm had been triggered by human error, a group from Medford that was in Hawaii for a marathon were still shocked.
Arriving last night, Nate Olsen, one of the group members, described sitting on the beach in the morning when everyone around them suddenly erupted into chaos.
“People running back across the street to their car and we noticed more people running towards their car,” said Olsen, “We started noticing there was families and people crying. People peeling out and taking off.”
It was at that moment when the group received the notification of the threat on their phones. Running back to their apartment, the group took shelter and started calling friends and family.
“You know we left, you know, kids at home, loved ones at home, so it was kind of a nerve-wracking situation,” said Olsen.
He and the others started to look for any information on the internet but couldn’t find anything for the first 15 minutes. Officials soon figured out what happened about 20 minutes after the initial notification, releasing new information that the threat had been a false alarm, letting Olsen and his friends breath a sigh of relief.
They’ve since been going about their day as normal, taking part in a whale-watching tour. But the feeling of that moment still resonates with them all.
“It just made it real to me that this is something that could happen,” said Olsen. “Either today or in the future.”
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