Gulfport yacht tragedy yields nationwide support, safety precautions

Gulfport yacht tragedy yields nationwide support, safety precautions

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - To members of the yachting community, John Harrison Doucet is like a family member. And while they are concerned about his recovery, they are also concerned with making sure a tragic accident like the one that happened to him doesn't reoccur.

On Sunday, 20-year-old Doucet was severely burned from an electric shock when his boat hit a powerline at the Gulfport Yacht Club. And Coast sailors are coming together with support.

"It's kind of like when you see a sailor in distress, you go out and you do what you can to help 'em," said Pass Christian Yacht Club Commodore Patrick Burns. "We have a sailor that's in distress and we're trying to help 'em."

Burns said the yachting community is a tight-knit organization.

"You become friends with people all over the world by doing this sport," he said. "And your basis of friendship is not limited to Harrison County or Gulfport. It's coast to coast."

But there are also lessons to be learned. And the Pass Christian Yacht Club is being proactive.

The Pass Christian Harbor has all of its electrical wiring underground except for one small spot with four power poles, right next to where all of the sailboats are parked. And that's the reason why yacht club officials ask the city of Pass Christian and the harbor master to put up barricades in hopes that what happened in Gulfport, won't happen in their city.

"It certainly enlightens everybody to be aware of their surroundings," said PCYC Fleet Captain John Housey. "You become complacent where are you are often, moving boats and taking things for granted. And you don't look up. But there are power lines on our property and we're now well aware of it.

"We've never truly paid attention to them until this accident."

Burns said that other yacht clubs are thinking safety as well.

"This is all fresh being that it only happened a few days ago," he said. "But all the yacht clubs I know are looking at their infrastructure, they're looking at the power lines around their buildings and making the necessary changes so it will not happen again."

Doucet is at the Joseph M. Still burn center in Augusta, GA. His father, Tommy Doucet, told WLOX that his son is in "very critical" condition and that he had been scheduled for further surgery to check for infections.

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