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.
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