By T. D. Thornton
Jockey Jose Luis Flores, who was gravely injured in a Parx Racing spill Mar. 19, is still being kept alive by life-support machinery at a Philadelphia hospital as of midafternoon Wednesday.
His longtime agent, Dave Yanuzzi, told TDN around 1:30 p.m. that there have been travel complications for family members trying to come north from Florida to see Flores, delaying the 56-year-old’s expected removal from life support.
Another factor in the family’s decision over when to stop life support, Yanuzzi said, is that Flores had long ago signed paperwork expressing a desire to be an organ donor, and the timing of his passing must be coordinated with doctors so that they can follow through with those wishes.
“His parents were coming in from Florida,” Yanuzzi said. “They had a flight scheduled but it was cancelled. They’re in their eighties, and subsequently had to [have relatives drive them]. They were supposed to arrive here around 7:00 a.m. [Wednesday]. I spoke to Jose’s wife around 11:00 a.m., and they hadn’t arrived yet.
“Basically he’s on life support. They’re going to disconnect him. The parents want to see him. He has no brain activity, so there’s basically nothing the doctors can do. But they still want to keep him [alive] for now because he’s an organ donor, and there are concerns about being able to harvest what organs they can. His wife [Joanne McDaid-Flores] is taking it really hard. She has a seven-year-old son. His parents are going to take it really hard.”
Flores is hospitalized at Jefferson Torresdale Hospital in Philadelphia. He has been in a coma since Monday, when both Flores and his mount, Love Rules (Not For Love), suddenly crashed to the dirt as they were dueling between two other horses on the lead entering the far turn of the ninth race.
“I was home, I had just gotten done eating dinner, and I saw [the simulcast feed],” Yanuzzi said. “And right away I said, ‘Oh, man this is bad. I’ve got to go to the hospital.’
“He didn’t clip [heels],” Yanuzzi continued. “He was in between horses, tightly grouped. The horse broke its shoulder. Normally when a horse breaks its shoulder, they hit the ground very quickly. When a horse [suffers a lower leg injury] they can sometimes get the horse pulled up. But he went down so quickly that probably the force of the horse going down dragged his face and head into the ground. And then another horse ran directly over him.”
Love Rules was euthanized. The horse and jockey that fell over Flores and Love Rules, plus another mount that dislodged its rider trying to avoid the accident, all escaped serious injury.
“According to what the doctors said, when Jose hit the ground he felt no pain,” Yanuzzi said. “He was, basically, for all intents and purposes, gone. He had internal bleeding. They brought him in, his heart stopped, then they got it started. But he had massive cranial injuries. His brain stem was compromised, and he also had catastrophic injuries to his spine. He had no brain function at all.”
Yanuzzi said plans are in the works to establish a GoFundMe online fundraising page to assist Flores’s family and children. Details will be published as soon as they are available.