John Shear

John Shear

Benoit Photography

Santa Anita Paddock Guard Improving

Son says John Shear making strong comeback; injured shielding girl from loose horse.

The condition of injured 90-year-old paddock guard John Shear improved “one hundred eighty degrees” March 13 over what it was a night earlier at Huntington Memorial Hospital, according to a family member.

Shear, who was injured while shielding a 6-year-old girl from a runaway loose horse, was hospitalized following the incident, which occurred prior to Santa Anita’s third race.

“I went and saw him last night in I.C.U. and he didn’t look good,” said Shear’s son, Mike, 44. “His voice wasn’t good and his face was black and blue. I went back this morning to see him at 10:30 and there was a complete, 180-degree turnaround. He was sitting upright, talking, laughing and completely coherent and he’s stable.

“He’s got multiple fractures. I’m not sure about all of them, but we do know he has one fracture in his pelvic area. He was hurt about four years ago in a paddock accident at Hollywood Park and the doctors inserted a rod in that area which may’ve been dislodged yesterday.

“The doctors think this has caused some internal bleeding in that bone area and he did lose a significant amount of blood yesterday. The latest word is that he’s not going to have to undergo surgery at this time, which is great news,” said Shear.

Shear’s act of selfless heroism has created national interest, he said.

“I’m completely blown away and humbled by the response from fans at the track and from those on all the social media sites.  It’s amazing how many people that don’t even know my dad have expressed their well wishes,” said Shear.

“My dad does about 35 pushups a day and he eats well and stays fit. I think that’s the biggest reason he’s recovering so quickly. I’m extremely proud of him. I’m the most proud of him that I’ve ever been. He’s overcome a lot in his life, from where he came from and what’s he’s been able to accomplish.

“We’re not really sure how long he’s going to have to stay in the hospital.  A lot depends on whether he’s going to (eventually) need surgery.

Tracy Gantz contributed to this story