Jockey With 2K Wins Dies in 'Pedestrian Accident'

Churchill Downs calls Miguel Mena's death 'shocking, terrible, and heartbreaking'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2021 6:06 PM CDT
Veteran Jockey Dies in Strange 'Pedestrian Accident'
Jockey Miguel Mena celebrates after guiding Pool Play to win the Stephen Foster Handicap horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, June 18, 2011.   (AP Photo/Garry Jones, File)

Successful, well-liked jockey Miguel Mena was killed in what police are calling a "pedestrian" accident in Louisville six days before his 35th birthday—and his friends are trying to figure out why. Mena's agent, Tim Hanisch, tells the Louisville Courier-Journal that Mena was on his way home in a Lyft vehicle Sunday night when he inexplicably left the car and set out on foot. He was hit by a vehicle after walking up a ramp and trying to cross the westbound lanes of I-64, police says. "I don't know how or why he got up there or what he was doing," Hanisch says.

Hanisch says Mena's behavior is especially puzzling because the jockey "didn’t like to walk much" after a fall three years ago that broke eight bones in his right ankle and heel. Hanisch says he had a few beers with Mena earlier Sunday. Nobody has been charged in connection with Mena's death, which has been ruled an accident. Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders says the jockey may have made some "bad decisions" after drinking. Mena, who came to the US from Peru when he was 17, won 2,079 races in North America and earned $72,483,396 in prize money, People reports.

Mena had a total of 481 wins at Churchill Downs, making him the 15th-winningest jockey in the track's history. His final race was the day before his death. In a statement, Churchill Downs Racetrack President Mike Anderson said is the death is "absolutely shocking, terrible, and heartbreaking," per CNN. "We'll miss his bright smile. Our deepest condolences are extended to his many friends, fellow riders, and family, and our immediate thoughts are with his wife April and his daughters Naelah and Montserrat." (Read more jockeys stories.)

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