Some 52 days after his near death in an Alaska fishing plane crash that killed Sen. Ted Stevens, former NASA administrator and Navy Secretary Sean O'Keefe has been released from the hospital and true to his reputation went right to work.
O'Keefe, who suffered a neck injury and broken feet in the August 9 crash that also injured his son Kevin, traveled Thursday to Capitol Hill, attending two events where he announced the establishment of a $100,000 scholarship in Stevens' name to benefit the families of National Guard and Coast Guard personnel in Alaska. The scholarship is funded by EADS North America, which O'Keefe heads. Stevens and O'Keefe were longtime friends going back to the 1980s when O'Keefe headed the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee headed by Stevens.
Walking on crutches, O'Keefe expressed his thanks to the Alaska National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard rescuers who saved his and the lives of three others a day after the crash into the side of a remote mountain in Alaska. Stevens and four others died, including the pilot of the float plane that was ferrying the fishing party between camps.
The first event took place at the National Guard Association of the United States and included the head of the Alaska National Guard, Maj. Gen. Tom Katkus. The second was in the Rayburn House Office Building for the at the Association for Rescue at Sea. The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., and Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara, attended.
Earlier in the week, O'Keefe attended Stevens' burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Friends say that he still has several weeks of rehabilitation ahead of him before returning to work at EADS, though one said that "he still has that O'Keefe spirit."