07/11/2005 11:00PM

Apprentice paralyzed in Charles Town spill


Apprentice jockey Shannon Campbell has been paralyzed from the waist down as the result of an accident Saturday night at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.

Campbell, 34, was thrown when her 35-1 mount, Makin Violets, clipped heels going into the turn of the first race, a $5,000 maiden claiming race at 4 1/2 furlongs. The accident severed Campbell's spinal cord just above the waist, according to Jesus Sanchez, a rider's representative at the track, and Campbell's agent, Jodi Ramsburg.

"It was just one of those things," Sanchez said. "It was a really tight race, her horse clipped heels, and she went down."

Campbell, a five-pound apprentice, won 75 of 953 races in a career that began in August 2003.

"She was more than a boss to me," said Ramsburg, who has been visiting Campbell at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., where she was airlifted on Saturday night after the accident. "She's my best friend. We're like sisters. I don't think I can do this job anymore. Not after this."

Campbell is married and has an 8-year-old daughter, Ramsburg said. Campbell became a jockey to fulfill a lifetime dream of race riding after 15 years of exercising horses, principally at tracks in West Virginia, Ramsburg said. Campbell recently resumed riding after recovering from a broken collarbone.

Campbell is scheduled to be moved on Friday night to a hospital in Pennsylvania that specializes in spinal cord injuries, according to Ramsburg. The rider never lost consciousness after the accident and has been talking to family members and friends since the accident occurred, Ramsburg said.

Charles Town was dark on Tuesday and track officials did not return phone calls for comment.

The accident is the second in a year in West Virginia that has left a rider at least partially paralyzed. Last year at Mountaineer Race Track, jockey Gary Birzer was paralyzed from the waist down after an accident in July.

Charles Town Races carries $100,000 in ontrack accident insurance, Sanchez said. During the past year, partially in response to the Birzer accident, some tracks have increased coverage to $1 million. Sanchez said that the jockey colony at Charles Town was scheduled to meet with representatives of the Jockeys' Guild on Wednesday to discuss how to put together a fund to pay for Campbell's medical bills.