Harrison County

John Harrison Doucet family settles lawsuit with Mississippi Power, Gulfport Yacht Club

John Harrison Doucet, who lost three limbs after a Mississippi Power line shocked him outside the Gulfport Yacht Club, has settled a lawsuit with the company and the Gulfport Yacht Racing Association.

Details of the settlement are confidential.

“At this point, John Harrison can move forward toward one primary medical issue, and that is implementation of special prosthetics for both of his legs and, hopefully, his right arm,” said his attorney, Joe Sam Owen of Gulfport.

Doucet lost his legs near his hips and his arm near the shoulder, so too little of his limbs remain for traditional prostheses. An orthopedic surgeon in Colorado will instead perform surgeries that will allow attachment of specialized prostheses, Owen said.

“It’s a lengthy process because there will be rehabilitation,” Owen said. “It will involve basically learning to walk again.”

‘Miracle’ recovery

Doucet’s parents filed the lawsuit on his behalf more than a year ago in Harrison County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleged that Mississippi Power was negligent in installing the power line over Gulfport Yacht Club property and the yacht club acted negligently by designating the area under the line for sailboat rigging and parking.

Doucet’s complaint also accused Missisippi Power of trespassing by installing the line. The company had no written easement to cross yacht club property, court records show.

Doucet, who was 20 years old at the time, was parking a Yacht Club sailboat when a cable from the mast came into contact with the line while his hand was on the boat trailer.

The Gulfport High School graduate, who once aspired to be a boat captain and loves being on the water, has not walked since the accident on the evening of Sept. 18, 2016.

He was on fire when Gulfport firefighters found him in the Yacht Club parking lot.

He was hospitalized for more than six months, with third- and fourth-degree burns covering more than 85 percent of his body. He almost died several times before he recovered enough from his injuries to be released from the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia.

A crowd of family and friends greeted him with cheers when he arrived home on a volunteer flight through Angel Flight Soars.

“I think any doctor or any physician would tell you that 99 percent of the time, an individual can not survive this” Owen said. “Apparently, the Lord has a plan for him.”

Continuing challenges

He fought through “rampant infections” and other complications. Since his return home, John Harrison has been spending time with his close-knit family and friends.

Support poured in from around the country, especially from the sailing community. A GoFundMe account raised more than $165,000, but Doucet’s medical bills remained daunting.

“Considering the extent of his injuries and everything he’s been through, he’s got the most positive attitude of any person I know,” Owen said. “He’s got a smile on his face every time you see him.

“He’s trying to deal with it and, in my opinion, he’s doing a fantastic job of dealing with all the problems he’s had over the past two years . . . It’s a miracle, what he’s done.”

Even after he is fitted with prosthetics, John Harrison will continue to face challenges.

“He’s going to have to deal with those extensive burns for the rest of his life,” Owen said.

“I’m proud of him for what he’s done and what he’s been through. Not one time has he ever complained to me.”

Anita Lee can be reached at 228-896-2331 or @CAnitaLee1