Johnson's Father Recovering After Heart Attack at Del Mar

(from Del Mar stable notes)
Trainer Murray Johnson reported Sunday that his father, Geoffrey, is recovering well at Scripps Hospital in Encinitas following a heart attack on Friday afternoon at the Del Mar racetrack.

Johnson, who saddles Perfect Drift in Sunday's Pacific Classic (gr. I), said his father would have a defibrillator device inserted in his chest on Tuesday and then await later discharge from the hospital.

The trainer plans to stay in the San Diego area until the defibrillator procedure is completed before he heads back to his Louisville, Ky., headquarters.

"Then, when he is discharged from the hospital," the younger Johnson added, "I'll come back and take him to Kentucky until he's well enough to travel home to Australia."

Geoffrey Johnson, 78, who has a history of heart problems, according to his son, was stricken while visiting at Paddy Gallagher's tack room. Quick action by his son, trainer Joe Herrick, and Del Mar Fairgrounds medical personnel was credited for saving his life.

Murray Johnson said he called for help and was joined by Herrick, who applied immediate CPR. Murray Johnson pulled one of the fairgrounds' newly installed Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machines from the wall, thus triggering an alarm in the fire station adjacent to the track.

Personnel from the track's Huntington Ambulance Service then used the AED to shock the senior Johnson back into a proper heart rhythm. Shortly thereafter, fire department paramedics arrived to further administer to the victim and eventually take him to Scripps Hospital.

The Del Mar Fairgrounds has 32 AED machines located throughout the facility. The units were installed over the past year, and Friday's incident was the first time the equipment had been put to use.