For Jerry Velasco Laughter is the Best Medicine


On November 7th Jerry Velasco was in a horrible car accident. He survived being hit by a speeding car, on drivers’ side, crushing his car to about 20 inches wide. Once he was dislodged from the car he was rushed to the hospital. He had five broken ribs, a punctured lung, a broken leg and cuts and bruises all over his entire body. He was in intensive care for a week. But what is the first thing he does while in intensive care? He takes a picture of himself on the phone (it was actually the TV remote control that he used as a phone). He just wanted to let people know he was OK.

JErry on PhoneJerry knows a thing or two about giving the right impression. For years he headed a PR firm Velasco/Cardinale PR. He worked in the entertainment industry for over 25 years before moving on to politics. In 2014 Jerry changed gears and ran for El Monte’s City Treasurer and won. His supporters included dignitaries from the entertainment world as well as high-ranking politicians. His mission is to try and bridge common issues in his newly elected post, to the entertainment world.  We should all be politically aware and politicians should know the concerns of Latinos in the entertainment industry. This can only help all concerned.

When the accident happened, almost immediately word got out that Jerry had been in a car accident and friends and family began to come by like clockwork. From politicians like newly elected LA. Councilwoman Hilda Solis, friends from the City of El Monte, to friend from his years in the entertainment industry like Edward James Olmos (who came by for Thanksgiving dinner and of course signed autographs for the staff), Alma Martinez, and Dyana Ortelli, among many.

I met Jerry in the 80’s when he was president of Nosotros, a non-profit organization co-founded by Ricardo Montalban. One thing is certain, if you are around Jerry, he is sure to keep you in stitches (no pun intended).

I went to visit Jerry in his third week of convalescing.  I thought since he was in pain and still recovering, he would be more subdued. I was wrong. If you didn’t see him lying there with his leg in a brace, still bearing the bruises and broken bones of the ordeal you wouldn’t know he had been hit by an SUV. He was waiting for his burrito “de lengua” (tongue) he ordered when we told him we were coming to visit him.

Jerry holding up his burrito de Lengua
Jerry holding up his burrito de lengua

It was a fun hour and a half of laughter and surreal stories as Jerry told us about the ordeal. He recounted it in his matter of fact way, with a twist of funny to everything.   He told us about the accident and the young woman who “t-boned” him, then took to Facebook to brag to her friends about it. Jerry told us how he was dazed and confused and finally the ambulance came to try and the paramedics tried to get him out of his car, which was crushed, to about 20 inches. He was lodged in a space of 16 inches (a tight squeeze for any adult) and after 5 tries the emergency attendants were finally able to pull him out, without causing any damage to the spine (miracles do happen!). He talked about the ordeal of having to be bathed by his nurses and requesting they close their eyes or at the very least turn the lights off before bathing him.

Not once did he complain about the pain. He was diligent in taking his doctor’s advice, “as soon as you start feeling pain, take the pain pills”.  That took care of the most painful part of his injuries — the pain from his broken ribs.

I kept thinking to my self, as I laughed along with the other four visitors, we could literally turn on the camera and we could have the Jerry Velasco Tales of a Hospital Patient sitcom.

But Jerry has the best medicine (aside from the pain pills) a man could want, the love of his friends and family and his positive way of looking at this situation. His doctor, also a friend of his, was surprised at his fast recovery, and Jerry told us when we were there that the doctor was thinking there might not be an operation on his leg after all. It was healing pretty well.

I was glad to have visited.  We laughed, we reminisced about the good old days, and I knew that Jerry was going to be just fine. Laughter is the best medicine!

And Jerry, hurry up and get out of the hospital already, we need to go pitch this show.

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