Community gathers to pray for Gulfport sailor’s recovery
A friend has set up a GoFundMe account for John Harrison Doucet, a 20-year-old Gulfport resident who is fighting for his life after an electrical shock Sunday evening at the Gulfport Yacht Club.
Doucet was parking his sailboat on a trailer at the yacht club when the accident occurred, assistant Fire Chief Kevin Lundy said. Doucet was removing the trailer from the boat at the time. The boat tilted upward as the trailer released. A guide line from the boat’s mast touched an electrical transmission line, Lundy said, striking Doucet because his hand was on the trailer hitch.
Sailboats are parked at the yacht club in an L-shaped parking area bordered by electrical lines. The Yacht Club’s general manager, Steve Chatelain, has not returned calls to comment.
Lundy said Doucet suffered third- and fourth-degree burns over 75 percent of his body.
According to the GoFundMe page, both of his legs had to be amputated after he was airlifted to the Joseph M. Still Burn and Reconstruction Center at Merit Health Central in Brandon. The family said Monday evening he was stabilized enough to be transferred to a burn center in Augusta, Georgia.
His uncle, Steve Doucet, said medical staff were able to save his right arm, which was badly burned in the incident.
Steve Doucet and at least 100 others gathered at Jones Park on Monday evening to hold a prayer vigil. John Doucet’s parents were with him in the rescue helicopter en route to Augusta while the prayer vigil was taking place.
“You can see here how many people love him,” his uncle said, referring to the large turnout. “He’s a humble, loving, yes-sir, no-sir kind of guy. He’s just big-hearted. We’re all praying for him.”
John Doucet’s grandmother, Mollie Doucet, said her grandson is an avid sailor and quite popular with the ladies.
“He loves sailing, and he just loves all the girls,” she said with a smile. “You know, he didn’t have just a single girl. He’s just a good boy.”
A GoFundMe page has been established to help offset John Doucet’s medical bills. The page was started by Holly Murray, sailing director for the Fairhope Yacht Club in Alabama and friend of the family from her days as sailing director at the Long Beach, Miss., yacht club.
“This GoFundMe campaign is to offset the unforeseen medical, travel and housing expenses for the family so they can be there to support John Harrison through his recovery and rehabilitation,” the GoFundMe page says. “Please keep his family in your prayers.”
The funding goal is $20,000, with more than $3,000 raised in an hour.
“A lot of people in the sailing community have been texting me and asking me what they could do,” Murray said. “The sailing community is close-knit.”
Murray said on the page that John Doucet is a lifelong sailor and competitor in the Gulf Yachting Association. Friends say the Gulfport High School graduate has been an instructor for summer sailing camps at Gulfport Yacht Club and that he loves animals.