Gulfport sailor’s parents hire lawyers, say accident ‘preventable’

John Harrison Doucet
John Harrison Doucet

The parents of 20-year-old John Harrison Doucet released new details about their son’s condition Saturday. John Harrison was shocked Sept. 18 by an an overhead power line outside the Gulfport Yacht Club.

Tommy Doucet and Ruthie McMullen said they have hired attorneys Abraham Banks, Jimmy Collins and Joe Sam Owen to investigate the accident. The family has asked that inquiries surrounding the accident be directed to their attorneys.

They said the accident “was preventable and should never, ever have occurred.”

John Harrison had been parking the yacht club’s sailboat and trailer when the back stay, a cable that supports the mast, touched a power line. He was in contact with the trailer when it hit the line and was shocked.

His family said the overwhelming local and global support through donations and prayer have helped them stay strong as they remain at the side of the Gulfport High graduate as he recovers at Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.

“As mother, father and family of John Harrison, we are all 100 percent committed to being by his side for the rest of his life,” his family said in a press release. “The many prayers uplifting John Harrison from the Gulf Coast, and perhaps from around the world, are not only sustaining him, but also us in these trying times.”

His ‘beautiful face was spared’

John Harrison’s family noted doctors have said he is a fighter.

“We have been told by his doctors that John Harrison’s mind, heart, and lungs are miraculously strong,” the release said. “John Harrison’s handsome, beautiful face was also spared.”

The rest of his body, however, was not. He suffered third- and fourth-degree burns over much of his body. His legs had to be amputated, and his right arm may need to be removed to save his life, though his family said they are hopeful doctors can save it.

The family said doctors told them about 80 percent of his skin was burned. His kidneys have shut down, but doctors said it is normal for the kidneys to do that in this situation. The family, who praised the burn center’s medical staff, said doctors have a plan to help reconstruct his damaged skin.

“Down to the bone, his muscles, skin, and other soft tissues have been horribly damaged by the powerful electricity,” the family said. “John Harrison has many years of recovery and painful rehabilitation ahead of him.”

They’ve received requests from many media outlets for current photos, but they said pictures will be released only with their son’s permission.

They said John Harrison is not in a position to decide whether to release photos of himself at this time, and his parents want to respect his privacy.

Family thankful for support

When John Harrison was injured and had to be taken to Atlanta, his family members got to the burn center in Georgia as quickly as they could. The GoFundMe page has helped them pay for toiletries, fuel to drive to the hospital, living expenses and “to help us try to avoid losing our homes in the hope that John Harrison can return back to Gulfport someday.”

Coast residents, sailing clubs and people from around the world have contributed to help with expenses. So far, about $152,000 has been raised.

“Words cannot express our genuine and heartfelt appreciation and thankfulness for everyone not only on the Gulf Coast, but from around the U.S. and especially the sailing community, who have offered their support and words of encouragement,” the family said. “The GoFundMe page response was unexpected, truly amazing and much needed.”

The family said they will continue to provide updates on John Harrison’s condition.

“This past week has been horrific, uplifting, hopeless and hopeful,” they said. “Please keep praying as we believe in the power of prayer, and John Harrison needs them now more than ever on his long road ahead.”

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @Journalism_J