A fishing trip that ended in an accident has left former Lexington mayor H. Foster Pettit, 84, with a life-threatening bacterial infection.
Pettit, who served as mayor from 1972 to 1978, was fishing with friends and family on a fanboat in the Louisiana Delta on Thursday when the boat capsized in shallow water, said Pettit's son Gregory Pettit. Foster Pettit got a cut on his leg and as a result developed a serious bacterial infection after being stranded for hours.
He was in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator Saturday night at North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond, La. Gregory Pettit said his father was listed in critical but stable condition.
"He is hanging in there," Gregory Pettit said. "Doctors are encouraging but ... trying to keep us realistic."
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Foster Pettit and his wife, Brenda, had been visiting her family in Louisiana. Gregory Pettit said his father and four other people were on the boat when it capsized.
"There was no GPS or beacon, and everybody's cell phone got wet," Gregory Pettit said.
He said the captain's wife notified authorities after the boat did not come back when it should have. The Coast Guard found the fishing party hours after the accident and brought in a helicopter to rescue them.
While everyone got wet, Gregory Pettit said his father was the only one who got a cut and was the only one sickened. He said Foster Pettit was diagnosed with a vibrio infection, a bacterium common to coastal waters.
Gregory Pettit said he drove all night from Lexington with his brother Van Meter Pettit and arrived at the hospital in Louisiana Friday.
Foster Pettit, a Lexington native, is a real estate investor and longtime attorney who is of counsel at Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs.
One of his more notable real estate investments was the 15-story First National Building on West Main Street, which is being remodeled into a 21c Museum Hotel. Pettit owned the building from 1970 to 1999.
More recently, in the 2000s, Pettit was chairman of Bluegrass FLOW (For Local Ownership of Water), an organization that led an unsuccessful push for city acquisition of the water system that is owned by Kentucky-American Water Co.
Pettit served as a Democratic state representative from 1964-70.
As mayor, he was a leader in the consolidation of the Lexington and Fayette County governments in 1974 and was elected the first mayor of the Urban County Government that resulted.
He also served from 1979-81 as Gov. John Y. Brown Jr.'s secretary for public protection and regulation.