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MSUM student with Hawaii ties relieved missile warning was a false alarm

Ricquel Ramsbottom Photo by Skyler Zak

MOORHEAD—The missile warning sent out to phones across Hawaii on Saturday morning left at least one local resident with ties to the islands thankful that the warning turned out to be a false alarm.

Ricquel Ramsbottom, a senior in the athletic training program at Minnesota State Moorhead where she is also captain of the women's tennis team, lived in Oahu, Hawaii, from the ages of four to seven before moving to Billings, Mont. Her mother is half Hawaiian, and they have six relatives who still live in Oahu, all of whom were startled by the false ballistic missile warning sent by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

According to Ramsbottom's cousin, Hi'ilei Dikilato, 16, who was competing for the Kamehameha high school paddling team at the time of the warning, the sirens that went off sounded exactly like the island's sirens used for tsunami warnings. Dikilato and her team didn't find out until they took shelter at a nearby shopping center that the sirens were for a ballistic missile, not a tsunami.

"I was shocked," Dikilato said. "I thought I might actually die."

According to the head of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Vern Miyagi, the wrong button was pushed during what was supposed to be a test of a ballistic missile warning system early Saturday morning. The human error caused panic by sending a message to cell phones on the island that read, "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

At the time of the warning, Ramsbottom was at an athletic event of her own. She was working at a track meet as part of her athletic training program. By the time she found out about the warning, it was already confirmed to be false. The news still gave her a new outlook on things.

"It's so crazy that this can actually be a reality now," Ramsbottom said. " With North Korea and all the tension it's just crazy, and there's no way to prepare for that."

Ramsbottom texted Dikilato when she found out, but Dikilato was more concerned that her paddling meet was cancelled by that point.

"It was interesting seeing how everyone's true colors came out," Dikilato said. "I kind of got to see who stays calm in those situations and who doesn't."