The March 24, 1989 Exxon Valdez grounding caused one of the worst oil spills ever witnessed in the United States. While clean up crews were battling the spill, Exxon's crisis management personnel were fighting an uphill battle against the unyielding press coverage and negative reactions from people across the country. At the heart of Exxon's crisis management shortcomings were the flaws in decision making which were made at the beginning of the crisis. This article explores the difficulties of crisis decision making and reveals how Exxon employed the maladaptive crisis response pattern of hypervigilant decision making during its initial response to the spill. The article also offers procedural changes which would benefit crisis management personnel who might face a similar catastrophe in the future.