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Coast Guard Crewman Dies from 'Serious Illness' a Day after Falling Ill

By Matthew F Smith, Digital Producer, msmith@ktuu.com
Published On: Mar 18 2014 01:15:00 PM AKDT
Iliuliuk Family and Health Services, Inc.

Photo: Iliuliuk Family & Health Services, Inc.

Iliuliuk Family and Health Services, Inc.

ANCHORAGE -

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the death of a Dutch Harbor crewmember who succumbed to a “serious illness” Tuesday morning just a day after he fell ill.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Shawn Eggert said the crew member, whose name will be released tomorrow, said the man checked in to the Iliuliuk Family and Health Services Clinic in Unalaska just after 2 a.m. Monday.

Eggert said health care providers at the clinic diagnosed a “serious illness” and performed several tests before calling in to Coast Guard District Command in Juneau requesting a medevac. Hearing the symptoms, the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended transport.

The man was flown from Dutch Harbor to Cold Bay just after 8 a.m. Monday, and by 10 a.m. had arrived at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage.

Eggert said the crewman received treatment until he died Tuesday morning around 6:40 a.m.

Few details were available Tuesday about the man’s illness. Eggert said the crewmember had worked as part of the Marine Safety Detachment in Dutch Harbor since May 2013, and his work involved safety examinations on fishing vessels and attending to pollution aboard vessels.

“Effectively protecting the environment and protecting mariners from the dangers of their lifestyle,” Eggert said.

While the cause of the illness is still being investigated, Eggert said the Coast Guard “has no reason to believe” it was caused by anything he came into contact with “during the course of his duties.” He said the illness seems to be “isolated” and that there’s no concern it might spread to other members in the detachment.

The Coast Guard will not release information on the man’s medical condition or cause of death until an autopsy is completed. It was unknown when that examination would be performed, but Eggert said the Coast Guard does not perform its own autopsies in medical deaths.

The illness and the man’s death remain under investigation.