John Harrison Doucet lifts his parents’ spirits with a surprise move

John Harrison Doucet
John Harrison Doucet

John Harrison Doucet remains in guarded condition after a severe electrical shock three weeks ago outside the Gullfport Yacht Club, but his parents say he is growing stronger every day.

Tommy Doucet and Ruthie McMullen sent an update Saturday through their Gulfport attorney, Joe Sam Owen, from the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia.

The week started with a serious drop in the 20-year-old’s blood pressure, they said. Doctors had to delay, but were later able to perform a tracheostomy. The procedure, common in extended critical-care cases, will allow oxygen to reach John Harrison’s lungs through his ventilator and recduce the risk of infection from tubes that were in his mouth before the surgery.

Infection remains the biggest threat to his recovery from the third- and fourth- degree burns over 80 percent of his body.

John Harrison also has fought a 102-degree fever this week, Doucet and McMullen said.

But there was a surprising bright spot.

“Thursday night, our spirits were lifted tremendously when John Harrison was able to raise his left arm straight up in the air,” they said.

The lifelong sailor and Gulfport High graduate has lost both legs and his right arm because of his burns. Doctors are growing his skins cells for grafts.

They have hired Ocala, Florida, attorneys Abraham Banks and Jimmy Collins, along with Owen, to investigate what happened. John Harrison was parking a yacht club sailboat and trailer when a cable from the mast came into contact with an overhead power line.

Mississippi Power has said it will have no comment until it completes its investigation.

Doucet and McMullen believes prayers from the Coast and sailing community have helped their son survive. Thousands have also donated to help with expenses, and businesses continue to hold fundraisers.

“We are so humbled and ever thankful for the tremendous generosity of the Gulf Coast,” his parents said.

They noted a prayer vigil is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday in Jones Park and asked for continued prayers.

Community support has been crucial for the widely known Gulfport family. This week, Doucet and McMullen said, Newk’s Eatery hosted a profit-sharing fundraiser, and Sharkheads souvenir shop and Shaggy’s restaurant contributed to the cause. Crossfit 228 held a garage sale and created a workout around sailing.

“We saw many cool pictures on Facebook of this event,” they said, “with people wearing their #prayingforjohnharrison T-shirts.”