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Recovery Chances Dim for Hall of Fame Jockey

April 17, 1991

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) _ Racing’s winningest jockey, Bill Shoemaker, can do no more than shrug his shoulders and is unlikely to recover from injuries he suffered in an automobile accident, officials said Wednesday.

″He has no motion or sensation below his upper chest and shoulders,″ Centinela Hospital Medical Center said in a statement.

The hospital said Shoemaker broke his neck and injured his spinal cord.

″Prospects for neurological recovery are poor,″ the hospital said in its most detailed statement on Shoemaker’s condition since his four-wheel-drive flipped down a freeway embankment April 8.

Shoemaker, 59, will be transferred to a hospital in Denver next week, the hospital said.

Shoemaker was known early in his career as Willie but has said he prefers Bill.

The hospital said Shoemaker remained in critical condition and was breathing with help of a respirator that provides air through a hole surgically cut into his windpipe.

He will transferred to the Respiratory Unit of the Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver, Colo., and may require surgery to repair the break in his neck, the statement said.

Dr. Robert Watkins of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, who issued the statement, said Shoemaker was able to do no more than shrug his shoulders.

Shoemaker had a blood-alcohol level of .13 at the time of the accident in San Dimas. Authorities believe Shoemaker fell asleep before losing control of his vehicle, said Joe Flores, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

The legal limit is .08, but a prosecutor indicated earlier that Shoemaker might not be charged with drunken driving because of his condition.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in Pomona said Wednesday a decision had not yet been made on whether to file charges.

Shoemaker retired Feb. 3, 1990, with an all-time record 8,833 victories. He had been training horses since his retirement.

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