“There is a Five-Year-Old Girl. I’m 90 Years Old. I Have had a Life. She Hasn’t had a Life. You Got to Save that Life”



Source of Screenshots of John Shear and Roxy Key:


In March 2011, John Shear, an age-90 paddock guard at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California, saved the life of a five-year-old girl who was in the path of a runaway horse. Witness Aaron Hesz said, “The horse came full speed and the horse’s shoulder hit John’s head.” Mr. Shear, a former jockey, suffered multiple fractures. He had been working as a paddock guard at Santa Anita Race Track for almost 50 years. His son, Mike Shear, said after the accident, “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.” In 2013, John Shear remembered the most important 10 seconds of his career as a paddock guard: “I heard someone shout out there was a loose horse.” John Shear shouted to people to clear out of the path of the horse. He said, “I went to one side and when I looked down, there was a little girl standing there.” The little girl was five-year-old Roxy Key, the daughter of Michael Key, who said, “Before I could even think to even move, here comes Mr. Shear.” John Shear said, “I knew I was going to get hit. I thought there was a possibility I was going to die, but you cannot stop and think should I or shouldn’t I. There is a five-year-old girl. I’m 90 years old. I have had a life. She hasn’t had a life. You got to save that life.” He shielded Roxy from the horse by getting in between them. The horse knocked both of them down. Michael Key said, “She got up and I was shaking. I was in shock. And she’s like, ‘I’m fine, papa, I’m fine,’ and then she looked over and saw Mr. Shear on the ground and there was blood hemorrhaging and she lost it, she just lost it.” John Shear said, “I heard her say when her dad asked her if she was fine she said, ‘Yes dad, I’m all right.’ I felt better that she was safe.” Michael Key said that if not for John Shear, “She [his daughter] would have been dead. It would have crushed her, and I would have had, I would have been holding my dead baby in my arms.” John Shear spent seven weeks in a hospital. Two years later, in 2013, John Shear met Roxy again. He said, “I have always wanted to meet her, and I was so sad that I never got the chance to meet her when I got better.” He met her at a ballet school where she was taking a class: “I kept saying to myself, Is that Roxy? Where is she? I was on pins and needles waiting to see her.  And when I finally see her come out and dance, it felt so exhilarating I can hardly explain.  I felt so emotional in my heart.” He added, “When her mother came over and hugged me and said, ‘You’re my daughter’s guardian angel,’ I felt wonderful. There was just something emotional about that.” Michael Key said, “He didn’t save a daughter, he saved a family.”

For Further Information: “90-Year-Old John Shear Saves 9-Year-Old From Runaway Racehorse.” Huffington Post. 15 March 2011


For Further Information: Jay Privman, “Santa Anita paddock guard, 90, improving after accident.” 14 March 2011


For Further Information: Chris Connelly, “Man Meets 5-Year-Old He Risked His Life to Save at Racetrack.” ABC News. 4 November 2013


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