ARCADIA (CBS/AP) — A 90-year-old paddock guard at a Southern California thoroughbred track put himself between a young girl and a horse that broke loose before a race, injuring himself and leaving the girl unharmed.

Officials from Santa Anita said in statement that a 3-year-old gelding named See and Sage broke free from his handler in the track’s walking ring and ran toward an opening guarded by John Shear.

“At the time, there was a 9-year-old girl who was leaning forward. John, who works the paddock area, jumped in front of the girl. The horse came full speed and the horse’s shoulder hit John’s head,” witness Aaron Hesz told CBS2/KCAL9’s Rita Garcia.

Shear was conscious and responsive when take to the hospital, the statement said. His exact injuries were unclear.

Hesz said Shear, a former jockey, has worked at the racetrack for almost 50 years.

“People who come to the racetrack regularly know who John Shear is and John’s a really good man, he’s loves this sport,” he added.

The girl was uninjured, but appeared to be distraught after the incident.

“She was pretty traumatized after the incident. She was crying and I think she knew that John helped save her life,” Hesz said.

Shear was recovering Saturday night at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.

“He’s a strong man. He’s been through things before and hopefully he’ll be able to make it through this as well,” Hesz said.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (30)
  1. Ed Guthrie says:

    this man is a true hero. I hope he is okay. he should be recognized for his selfless bravery and be an example to this selfish world we live in.

  2. suzanne vargas-gibson says:

    that is a genuine true spirit of a man,to not think twice before throwing himself in front of a 3yr old girl,he should be commended,we lack people like him in these past years,i hope that he gets well,and i wish him the best,thou i wish that i could give him back some youth,i am sure that the magic of nature will step in and he will have something wonderful happen to wishes sir,and i hope for you only the very best.godspeed.

  3. Poogie says:

    I remember this man, he’s been there forever and truly a dying breed is this wayward world. God bless him and a speedy recovery.

  4. Karen says:

    John Shear is a HERO! What a wonderful story. God bless Mr. Shear and his family and the little girl and her family. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  5. Greg says:

    It is pretty awesome to see someone who thinks of others before himself, he should be commended and acknowledged for what he did.

  6. swhitS says:

    What a wonderful man. I hope he recovers well and is able to continue doing what he loves. Stories like this should be national news not just local. He should be commended.

    1. Alyssa says:

      It is national – the linked article is linked on 🙂

  7. rik says:

    This made me smile, Mr. Shear, I hope you are ok.

  8. Angela says:

    WOW- What a nice and lovely man! Truely heroic! Three cheers for Mr. Shear! Hip Hip Hoorrraaaayyy! 🙂 ❤

  9. Robert says:

    I would have done the same thing this guy is a true live saver…and not the candy

  10. Lis says:

    What a true act of heroism and bravery. Wishing him a very speedy recovery =)

  11. johnny chingas says:

    Bravo Mr. Shear, well done.

  12. Snerkles says:

    There are tears in my eyes, for you, Mr. Shear. You are truly a hero. Here’s hoping you recover, quickly, and can return to the place which you love.

  13. Snerkles says:

    And, incidentally, track folks, you don’t have a person guarding an opening, no
    matter how old the person. You put a gate, there, and let the person open it, if need be. Of COURSE an animal is going to head for that opening! Jeesh.

    1. Greg says:

      It’s an opening to let PEOPLE walk in and out when the horses are on the track, a gate is around the rest of the area, hard to explain but a gate isn’t feasible

  14. drozone69 says:

    How about the parents?who takes a three year old to a debaucherous event like a giant gamling ring,and then allows that child to wander around unnattended?I bet they were to busy feverishly gambling!Reports need to be given to CPS.

    1. Mark says:

      Why don’t you read the article??? It was the horse that was three years old!!!

      1. john says:

        drozone69 must be an illegal that needs to be deported because he cant read.

      2. rmsbl4 says:

        The second poster can’t read either.

    2. kaf says:

      Hey, drozone69, get off your high horse. Nothing said the NINE year old was unattended either, just that she was standing in the path of the loose horse, which could happen even if the parents were holding her hand. And horse racing isn’t just about gambling either. Plenty of people watch because they love horses and never bet a dime.

  15. rancher says:

    His father and mother must be very proud….

  16. Juanita Corpe says:

    OMG no one EVER thinks to blame the parents. What an enlightened thought…. accidents never happen… children should be placed in protected bubbles and kept scratch free. Also anything bad should happen to children the parents should be immediately charged with neglect and imprisoned for life for allowing it to happen… BTW the horse was three you moron… the girl was 9.

  17. Thoroughbred Owner says:

    John Shear, you are an amazing man! You were in the right place at the right time! I wish you the very best and pray for a quick recovery. Thankful all (human and equine) will be OK.
    Something obviously spooked the horse and he bolted for the nearest opening (freedom).

  18. margie says:

    i was thinking the same thing aaron hesz gives the business a bad name,,,,

    1. cliff says:

      Margie, a 90 year old man commits an act of courage and heroism and that’s what you take from this… What is wrong with you? And what did that guy Aaron say wrong??? Why is everything negative?

  19. margie says:

    i have known john for years he is quite a is remarkable what he did, thats obvious,but you obviousally dont know aaron very well or at all, and considering you dont know me dont asume thats what i take from this, it couldnt be further from the truth…do your homework on aaron before you judge,read the other comments about him…

    1. cliff says:

      I listen to Aaron on the Thoroughbred L.A. radio show and before that Roger Stein. I feel he comes off atriculate on the air and in this clip and picks a lot of winners… All I was saying is that this story is about John Shear and his heroics and I didn’t quite get why you had to knock him… I just felt this was something positive about racing…

      1. margie says:

        i agree this is very positive for racing,,i know aaron personally and have done business with him and it just anoys me that his name is even associated with johns as he is a class act… so i hope this clears the air,,good luck at the races

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