The Madison Leigh has been docked at the Bayou Caddy Marina in Hancock County for several days. The boat hasn't moved since deckhand Al Garcia became ill and had to be rushed to the hospital.
“Tuesday, they were planning on amputating both of his legs,” said Garcia’s sister, Wanda Bergeron.
Bergeron said her brother's worst nightmare on the water became real while he was shrimping near a navigational channel between the Long Beach and Gulfport harbors.
“His net got caught on a barge or some type of sunken vessel that was there, and he went overboard to try to break it loose so he could pull the net up,” Bergeron explained.
She said while he was under water, he scraped his legs on barnacles attached to the wreckage. Garcia and his doctors are now fighting to save his legs. His sister cautiously said so far they are winning the battle.
“This happened Monday. By Tuesday, he couldn't walk. He's responding well to the antibiotic and the pressure chamber they put him in, the oxygen chamber,” said Bergeron.
Bergeron says attacks by the aggressive and deadly bacteria are happening far too often in our gulf waters.
“It's a sad thing that we can't be in our waters. We can't enjoy our water because we're afraid. This is a life threatening bacteria. He could die.”
Dr. Robert Travnicek, former director of the Gulf Coast Health Departments, said the Vibrio bacteria has been in the gulf waters for decades, and it is not exclusive to South Mississippi waters.
“It mostly affects people who have other illnesses. It's a temperature sensitive organism. The hotter the water gets, the more bacteria. Anywhere you have salt water. This person could have gotten sick in Alabama, gotten sick in Florida, Louisiana or Texas,” said Travnicek.
Garcia's family members say there seems to be more cases reported on the Coast than in recent years. They think someone should study our waters before it hurts the Coast tourism industry.