GR native in Hawaii: ‘I feared for my life’

Grand Rapids
levi lilly_460799

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Levi Lilly was left fearing for his life on Saturday after waking up to a frightening alert of an incoming ballistic missile.

The Grand Rapids native said he thought his life was over when he woke up to the emergency text message that read, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

“It was a full-blown state of panic,” he said.

Videos have been shared showing people running on a school campus and a man putting a girl in a manhole after the alert was sent.

“I read the words ‘Ballistic Missile inbound.’ I thought I was still dreaming,” said Lilly. “I thought it was some kind of nightmare and instantly when I realized I was awake, my heart stopped.”

Despite the uncertainty he and his neighbors were facing, there was an incredible amount of silence on his street in Lahaina in West Maui.

“It was just pure dead silence on the street that I live on, which is pretty common, but for some reason it was just a really eerie haunting feeling,” Lilly said.

Lilly said he called 911, but the line was busy because too many people were calling at the same time.

He filled water bottles and contacted his family while he said his life flashed before him. If the missile didn’t kill him, Lilly said he was worried a tsunami caused by the missiles would.

It took 38 minutes for the Hawaiian government to fix what it said was an employee error that occurred around 8 a.m. The false alarm is creating change in the way the emergency system operates. as two people will be required to approve the sending of an alert.

State lawmakers will hold a hearing Friday to address the incident.

After everything Lilly went through, he is still appreciative of the system in place for situations like the one he was warned of.

“I think everybody is so busy criticizing them for this false alarm in all honesty, in the United States we’re very lucky to have a system that warns us of these things,” said Lilly. “This was honestly a very good drill for the real things, because it shows nobody is prepared for something like this.”

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