A jockey who cheated death on the racecourse has opened up on his battle back to health.
Pedro Terrero suffered a horror head injury when his horse clipped heels and came down while competing.
Medics feared the worst when the 37-year-old was thrown from filly Dreaming About You during the incident on February 2, 2019.
The Mexico native had to be resuscitated at the Golden Gate Fields track and was rushed to hospital.
After assessing his condition, doctors in America put Terrero's odds of survival at less than five per cent.
The horse was unhurt and has raced 16 times since the fall.
“I passed away,” Terrero said in an interview earlier this month, reported by Berkeleyside news.
“My heart stopped working. I stopped breathing. I was bleeding from my ears and from my nose.”
He has no memory of the fall, but remembers being awake at the hospital just before being taken for emergency surgery.
A surgeon had to cut into his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain caused by a subdural hematoma.
And part of his skull cap was removed and temporarily implanted in his stomach, while a tube was inserted down his throat.
His wife, Miriam was at his bedside when he awoke.
“She got my hand, she told me, ‘Push my hand if you hear me,’” he said,
"She asked if he was all right, “and I say ‘yes’ with my hand, and she cried. She was next to me the whole time.”
In days, Terrero began to amaze the medical team around him, finding the strength to take his first steps.
The father-of-three spoke to a doctor about the possibility of resuming the career he loved so much.
“Why are you worrying about your job?" she told him.
"You need to worry about your life. You are lucky to be here. You got lucky to be alive.”
Terrero, who launched his career at the same track where he fell heavily, back in 2009, gradually regained more of his mobility.
He worked hard to overcome significant balance, motor and cognitive issues.
Eventually, in March of this year, he felt fit enough to try horse riding again and gradually built up to the faster paces.
By June he reached a pivotal moment, restarting his career on the racecourse.
“I never feel afraid to ride horses. Never, never, never,” he said.
And remarkably, more than two years on, he is not only here to tell the tale but enjoying his best ever year in the saddle.
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This summer he was named leading rider at the Alameda County Fair meeting in Pleasanton and won another title at Golden Gate Fields.
In October, he took the $75,000 Pike Place Dancer Stakes on 25-1 outsider Vaping Angel.
“Maybe I am riding better,” he said.
“If I am, maybe it’s because I love what I do and I almost lost it. I really love it. This is my second chance. I’m lucky to be alive and I’m lucky to be riding horses again.”
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