BELMONT, N.Y. (CBS 2) — A professional jockey riding a race on Long Island was nearly killed in a horrifying accident on the track four years ago.
On Thursday, the wheelchair-bound athlete showed CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan the new meaning in his life, and the miracle comeback fueled with perseverance and inspiration.
Wheeling through the hospital with the doctor who helped save him, former jockey Andrew Lakeman was brought back to the day he was rushed there following the unimaginable at Belmont Park.
Riding a 78-1 underdog, Lakeman was at the top of the stretch when his horse lost her footing. He was thrown to the ground and trampled by a trailing horse.
“She clipped heels and I went down,” Lakeman said. “I don’t remember anything after that.”
Lakeman awoke with his family – flown in from England – weeping at his bedside.
“I was told that I would never walk again – that really hit me hard,” Lakeman said. “I thought my life was over. What was I going to do now?”
“This is, in fact, the story of someone who has overcome adversity, and recreated and reinvented himself, and really sort of ultimately defines what we see as a true success in rehabilitation,” said Dr. Adam Stein, chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
Lakeman survived a broken neck, severed spinal cord, punctured lungs and a cracked sternum. After years of grueling rehab, Dr. Stein inspired Lakeman to return to the racetrack, where he said he just bought a horse – a miracle horse.
“This horse was special, because I’d gone to stalls of other horses at Belmont, and they would just run to the back of the stalls and flare their nostrils at my wheelchair,” Lakeman said. “But when he came, he put his head straight on my lap.”
He named the horse “Thisskysabeauty.”
“This horse has brought me back to a new life,” Lakeman said.
Lakeman said his goal is to prove he can be a winning trainer from a wheelchair, working at the job he loves. He hopes Thisskysabeauty can be ready for next year’s Belmont Stakes.
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