Senator falls ill during committee hearing

Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Sen. Ralph Seekins, R-Fairbanks, was taken to the local hospital here after briefly losing consciousness during a committee hearing on Tuesday.

Seekins, 57, returned to work later in the day and said doctors at Bartlett Regional Hospital have not been able to determine why he had a fainting spell.

Seekins appeared to slump to one side during the Senate Finance Committee hearing at about 9:25 a.m. and complained of being lightheaded.

Sen. Donny Olson, a Democrat from Nome who is also a physician, rushed to Seekins' aid and said the Fairbanks lawmaker appeared to lose consciousness for less than a minute as he was being lowered to the floor. Witnesses said the state senator was awake and alert when emergency medical workers took him to the hospital.

Seekins said he has been suffering from the flu recently but was not taking medication for it. He had not eaten breakfast that morning and had walked up several flights of stairs immediately before the meeting.

Doctors said this may have contributed to the fainting spell, Seekins said.

Tests checking for heart problems came back negative.

Seekins suffered a head injury in January when he was hit by a hockey puck, but he said tests revealed no lasting damage from that injury.

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