During missile scare, man said goodbye to his kids — then had a heart attack

(Image: Brenda Reichel)
(Image: Brenda Reichel)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii Kai man nearly lost his life after suffering a heart attack during Saturday's missile alert false alarm, according to his girlfriend.

James Sean Shields, 51, started throwing up at Sandy Beach a few minutes after his emotional goodbyes to his children over the phone.

"He called his daughter and said, 'I love you' and did the same thing with his hanai son," said girlfriend Brenda Reichel.

Shields managed to drive to the Straub Hawaii Kai Family Health Center since Reichel's disability prevents her from operating his truck.

She said he collapsed in the reception area and workers moved him to a back room.

"A few minutes later I heard them yelling and screaming, '911! 911!' and he coded. His heart had stopped and they told me he had stopped breathing," said Reichel.

Workers performed CPR and paramedics used a defibrillator to get Shields' heart beating again, according to Reichel.

She rode with him in an ambulance to Straub Medical Center.

Doctors put four stents in his heart during an emergency surgery, according to Reichel.

"It just was enough stress. They say that it just pushed him into a heart attack. (He had) no history of heart attack or anything or heart disease. None that we knew of at all," she said. "They told Sean he had died and they brought him back."

Shields' medical emergency was among four that paramedics responded to Saturday in which the patients or their family blamed the false missile alert.

Within an hour of the false alarm, paramedics also responded to an 89-year-old man who fell and was in stable condition; a 37-year-old woman who got into a car crash; and a 38-year-old woman who called 911 after experiencing anxiety.

During a news conference on Saturday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he did not know of any injuries tied to the panic caused by the false alarm. The Honolulu Police Department's 911 dispatch center was swamped with more than 5,000 phone calls.

Attorney Sam King, who is a friend of Reichel, said he is gathering information to determine whether to pursue any legal action.

Reichel said that Shields was released from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

"He's talking. He's laughing. He's breathing fine. It's a miracle, but no one should go through that panic and that stress," she said.

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