POLITICS
01/15/2018 18:32 EST | Updated 01/15/2018 18:38 EST

B.C. Tory MP Todd Doherty's Hawaii Vacation Ended With False Missile Warning, Unexpected Reunion

"I was very proud of how our family handled it."

Todd Doherty, right, is shown with Air Canada pilot Romeo Ancheta in this photo from Doherty's Facebook page.
Facebook/Todd Doherty
Todd Doherty, right, is shown with Air Canada pilot Romeo Ancheta in this photo from Doherty's Facebook page.

A Conservative MP's family trip to Hawaii was capped by a false warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack and a reunion that left him smiling ear-to-ear.

Todd Doherty says his family was just packing up their things and cooking breakfast at their hotel in Waikiki Saturday when he received an emergency alert on his cellphone that they should take shelter from an "inbound missile threat."

They ultimately decided to crack some cold ones instead.

"I was very proud of how our family handled it," Doherty told HuffPost Canada Monday on the phone from his B.C. riding of Cariboo-Prince George.

"We all kind of gathered around the table. True Canadians, we had a breakfast of eggs and beer on our last day and tried to ascertain whether this was real or not."

Of course, it wasn't.

Some 40 minutes later, they received another alert letting them know it was a false alarm. Officials later said someone at the state's Emergency Management Agency hit a live alert button during a routine test, sparking the whole fiasco.

While Doherty says he could see people running from the beaches, he felt pretty confident things were fine because there weren't any air raid sirens blasting.

"I wasn't nonchalant but I didn't want my family to see me panic either," he says. "They take their cues from me."

Not everyone in their group got an alert, Doherty says. His 23-year-old son Josh compared it to the horror movie The Lottery. "If you got the message, you were one of the chosen ones," he says with a laugh.

Doherty says their emotions were "probably a bit more raw afterwards" while watching videos of children taking shelter in manholes and Hawaiians pulling over to side of the road to say goodbye to loved ones.

The MP and his wife also brought his younger brother Trent on the trip, along with his wife and young son. Doherty called Trent, who has battled cancer twice, his hero.

"We just wanted to make some memories with him," he says. "It was an interesting way to end the trip."

Things got even more interesting on the flight home when they learned Captain Romeo Ancheta was in the cockpit.

As an executive with WestJet 20 years ago, Doherty says Ancheta "bounced" into his Prince George office one day, not long after he finished high school, to talk about his aspiration to work in the aviation business. Doherty says he hired the young man for his first gig at WestJet about a month later.

The MP says it was a "very proud moment" when he heard over the Air Canada loudspeaker that he would be the one flying them back home.

"It was a full-circle moment that I don't think I've experienced much," Doherty says. "It was a really neat experience."

Doherty posted a photo with Ancheta to his Facebook page Sunday.

Approximately 20 years ago, a young man knocked on my office door and asked me if he could have a few minutes of my...

Posted by Todd Doherty, MP on Sunday, 14 January 2018

"Today is a day I'll never forget," Ancheta wrote in a comment under the post. "I am still glowing and am truly blessed."

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