Community, Governor And Coca Cola Show Support For Shark Attack Victim

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- An 8-year-old boy recovering from a shark attack is no longer in a deep coma and is responding to stimulation, doctors said Friday.

Jessie Arbogast is making slow progress after his right arm was reattached following his attack by a bull shark a week ago. Doctors on Friday planned to try to slowly take him off a device used to help with his breathing.

"Jessie, neurologically, is our main focus right now. He is no longer in a deep coma,'' said Dr. Rob Patterson. He said the boy doesn't respond to light stimulation but "he is certainly responding to pain and deep stimulation, and we have every reason to be encouraged.''

Back home, the city of Ocean Springs was covered with yellow ribbons on Friday in an effort to show support for Jessie and another local child, Gabrielle Spicer, who is battling cancer. Ribbons went up on businesses, homes, and other buildings. Ocean Spring Police, the fire department, the recreation department, and friends and family pitched in to make and distribute the ribbons for the two children.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove visited Jessie and his family in the hospital on Friday. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush visited on Thursday.

The Coca Cola Compnay has also pledged its support to Jessie. Coca Cola will match every contribution up to $50,000 make to Jessies benefit account at Hancock Bank. The company decided to join in the cause after seeing a story where one of Jessie's friends said he hoped to win Coke's million-dollar contest so he could give the money to Jessie.

It was one week ago that Ocean Springs boy was attacked at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, losing his right arm and sustaining a deep wound to his leg. He lost nearly all his blood, which damaged other organs.

His uncle and a beachgoer hauled the 7-foot shark ashore and a park ranger fired four bullets into the head of the bull shark and retrieved the arm from the shark's gullet.

Doctors said the family has received flowers, letters and e-mails from people all over the world and remained focus on the health of their child.

"They have such a great sense of faith. Their faith is pulling them through,'' said Sister Jean Rhoads of Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. "They have a great sense of peace in their hearts. Their total focus remains on their son.''

You can help Jessie Arbogast several ways.

  • You can contribute money to his account at Hancock Bank:
    • Jessie Arbogast Medical Fund
      Hancock Bank
      PO Drawer 609
      Ocean Springs, Mississippi 39566
      Account Number: 012428229
  • You can send cards and well-wishes to Jessie and his family there at the hospital:
    • Family of Jessie Arbogast
      C/O Sacred Heart Children's Hospital
      5151 North 9th Avenue
      Pensacola, FL 32504
  • Also, the Ocean Springs Park Commission is holding a charity car wash to help Jessie. It will be Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Discount Auto Parts in Ocean Springs.
  • There are also two blood drives coming up to help out. The first is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the St. Alphonsus School Gym, 502 Jackson Ave., Ocean Springs. Another will be Monday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Biloxi Community Center on Howard Ave., Biloxi.

You can also visit the Sacred Heart Children's Hospital Web site for daily updates on Jessie's condidion.