Welcome home, Ian

Bering Sea fisherman returns to Florence after injury aboard fishing vessel

Sept. 26, 2020 — On Thursday, Ian Wood returned to Florence after a Sept. 16 accident on board his fishing vessel required a dramatic Coast Guard Helicopter air lift from the Bering Sea to Anchorage, Alaska.

Mitzi Hathaway, Wood’s girlfriend and event coordinator for the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, recounted the event for friends who gathered at Homegrown Public House to welcome Wood home to the community.

Ian Mitzi

While working on the fishing vessel Atlantico, a one-ton piece of equipment dropped onto Wood, causing multiple injuries. It took five hours for the vessel to get to where Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak’s MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew could medevac the 40-year-old fisherman to Cold Bay, Alaska. Footage of the rescue can be seen on the air station’s Facebook page.

From there, Wood was transported to Anchorage, where he underwent a 5.5-hour surgery for a fractured pelvis, blood clots and other injuries.

Hathaway was prevented from joining him in Alaska due to travel and hospital restrictions from COVID-19.

Wood was able to fly into Eugene on Wednesday before his triumphant arrival at Homegrown, where he was greeted with a welcoming sign, hugs from friends and a cold beer from the pub.

“I don’t know anyone else that could survive having a 1-ton launcher crashing on them and then be standing a week later with five pelvic fractures, a fracture on his lumbar and cracked ribs,” Hathaway said.

Wood has worked two decades as a Bering Sea fisherman, previously working on the Lady Alaska, Time Bandit and Kona Ka. He was long lining for cod at the time of the accident.

Unfortunately, his injuries are likely career-ending.

That’s the main reason why Hathaway insisted he return here to recover.

“Ian was so touched with the outpouring of love from Florence,” she said. “He and I said we can’t imagine living anywhere else. Our journey led us here for a reason.”