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PADDOCK GUARD JOHN SHEAR RECOVERING, 90-YEAR-OLD HERO TO BE RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 14, 2011)—John Shear, Santa Anita’s 90-year-old Paddock Guard who was gravely injured while protecting a 6-year-old girl from a runaway horse on March 12, will be released from Huntington Memorial Hospital on Saturday, according to his son, Michael.
In a fortuitous twist of fate, Saturday is also Shear's wife Diane's 68th birthday.
“My dad wishes to thank you all for your prayers, generosity, and well wishes,” said Shear. “It has been a tremendous strength to him over these past difficult weeks. He’ll be released from the hospital this Saturday and will be going home, where he will continue with physical therapy.
“His doctors are amazed at the progress he’s made. He was badly injured and he was in very, very bad shape the first few days following the accident. He lost quite a bit of blood internally and his blood pressure got very low. My dad has always prided himself on eating well and staying physically fit and there’s no doubt this has helped him immensely.”
Shear, a former rider, who has been employed seasonally at Santa Anita since Dec. 23, 1961, sustained a fractured pelvis and other injuries as a result of the incident which took place prior to the third race on March 12.
Shear was in his customary position, holding a perimeter rope on the east end of the track’s walking ring. As the field of 10 horses were readying for the upcoming race, Sea and Sage, a 3-year-old gelding, wheeled, freeing himself from his handler and in a 180 degree about-face, sprinted towards the opening Shear was guarding.
As seen on live television, Shear threw himself in front of the young girl, in an act of selfless heroism that could well have saved her life.
“By any accounting, John Shear is a hero,” said Santa Anita President George Haines. “He is an amazing human being and we are elated that he is going to be going home much sooner than was originally thought. Through all of these years, John has been a great employee, a man that his peers looked up to. He loves this business and as he’s said many times, he loves being around it, the horses, the people and show that we all work so hard to put on.
“On behalf of all of us here at Santa Anita, we want to wish John a speedy recovery and look forward to honoring him this coming fall. He is truly one of a kind.”
The young girl had been brought to the track by her father, who wanted her to see that small people, jockeys, can be very successful, was uninjured, as was Sea and Sage.
Santa Anita’s winter/spring comes to a close this Sunday. Live racing will return to Santa Anita on Sept. 29.