U.S. Coast Guardsman dies of injuries suffered in rescue operation off Alaska

SEATTLE -- A U.S. Coast Guardsman died in a Seattle hospital Wednesday of injuries suffered while conducting a rescue operation near Amak island, Alaska, on Nov. 11.

Petty Officer Third Class Travis Obendorf’s family was by his side when he died in Swedish Hospital following surgery, the Coast Guard said.

At the time of his injury,  Obendorf and his colleagues aboard Coast Guard Cutter Waesche were conducting small boat operations to assist the disabled fishing vessel Alaska Mist with 22 crew aboard. During the first transfer of passengers, Obendorf was injured while recovering the small boat. A Coast Guard helicopter crew transported him to Cold Bay for a commercial medevac to Anchorage and further medical care. Obendorf’s family arrived in Anchorage shortly thereafter.  He was then transferred to Swedish Hospital Dec. 6 for continued medical care.

“Petty Officer Obendorf’s selfless actions directly contributed to rescuing five mariners in distress.  His willingness to assist others, even amidst the dangerous environment of the Bering Sea, truly embodies the Coast Guard’s core values,” said Waesche’s commanding officer, Capt. John McKinley. “Travis will be sadly missed.”

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident.