'Deadliest Catch's Keith Colburn Opens Up About Losing His Father in Season 15

Mandi Bierly
Preview Discovery

Even to viewers safely ensconced on their sofas, this season of Deadliest Catch has felt relentless.

Storm after storm has pounded the crab fleet, and for Capt. Keith Colburn (above) — who faces an engine-room fire and loss of power on the Wizard as the Bering Sea rages again in the August 20 episode — it's been especially brutal. "It's hard to keep track of just how many bad things happened and how many issues and breakdowns we had this year," he says. 

One January event, though, eclipses every one of those setbacks: Colburn and his relief-skipper brother Monte lost their beloved father, Gary, following a yearlong battle with cancer. Viewers had watched as the siblings split their time, alternating one in the wheelhouse and one at their dad's bedside, to keep their work commitment while still getting a chance to say goodbye. 

'Deadliest Catch' Cast Teases Season 15's Biggest Storm Yet

'Deadliest Catch' Cast Teases Season 15's Biggest Storm Yet

Will the Bering Sea crab fleet make it through OK?

Like the late Capt. Phil Harris, who allowed cameras into his hospital room in 2010, Gary had hoped he'd be able to watch the footage with his sons when it aired months later.

"The nurses said, 'Your dad was more animated and happy and alert today than we've seen him in weeks,'" Keith says of one visit. "He was happy to be there supporting us and what me and my brother have done for years now, which is not only fish crab but also be on the show."

'Deadliest Catch' Star Sig Hansen Details His Second Heart Attack

'Deadliest Catch' Star Sig Hansen Details His Second Heart Attack

Fans of the Discovery series got some shocking news about Hansen in the Season 15 premiere.

Fans have also lent support on social media during these tough times. "People relate to something everybody has to go through in their lives — and a lot of times, it's illness or loss," Keith says. "As far as I'm concerned, [this is] the most real reality show on TV."

Deadliest Catch, Tuesdays, 9/8c, Discovery