As John Harrison Doucet of Gulfport fights for his life, Mississippi Power says it is “investigating” the placement of high-voltage lines that shocked the 20-year-old while he parked his sailboat and trailer at the Gulfport Yacht Club.
The lines run along state port property that parallels an L-shaped parking area for sailboats on trailers at the yacht club. The Gulfport Fire Department said Doucet was parking a sailboat on a trailer Sunday evening. The lifelong sailor had taken family members out in a yacht club sailboat.
As the trailer was unhitched from the truck towing it, the boat tipped up and a guide line from the mast touched one of the electric wires, the fire department said, sending electricity through the trailer Doucet was still holding.
Lawyer Tim Holleman of Gulfport said he went to the yacht club Monday morning, not as an attorney but as a close friend of the family. He said the power lines actually cut across the boat parking area in the corner of the “L.”
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“That was a bad idea that the power lines cut across the back of the corner where they know boats are being parked,” Holleman said. “I don’t know why that was allowed to be put there, or how it was allowed to remain there once it was done.
“They sure ought to fix it. It’s not something that would be hard to fix. It’s a conflict that just should not have been there.”
He said one of the power poles needs to be moved 10 to 20 feet so that the wires don’t cross the fence line.
“I just don’t understand why this would be allowed in that manner, by the power company or anybody else,” Holleman said. “I’m not saying the port or the power company or the yacht club is responsible right now, but I can tell you, it is a serious issue, in my opinion.”
Power company spokeswoman Cindy Duvall said she could not comment on the situation until an investigation is completed.
“We are doing a full investigation,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time.”
Doucet was initially flown to the Joseph M. Still Burn and Reconstruction Center at Merit Health Center in Jackson but he has since been transferred to a burn center in Georgia. Friends of the family reported both his legs had to be amputated in Jackson.
While he was stabilized for the trip to Georgia, they say he remains in critical condition. A family member said he was undergoing surgery again Tuesday afternoon in Augusta.
A GoFundMe account set up for medical expenses had raised $115,251 in a day.
“This kid is the finest of kids,” Holleman said. “He’s just such a nice, good kid.”