Family and friends remember stuntman in traditional cowboy fashion

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – He was cowboy and a gentleman. Sunday, family and friends gathered to remember Jay Torrez, the New Mexico stunt man who died last week.

It’s the cowboy way — a solemn horseback procession to honor and remember a fallen vaquero.

“Jay was as honorable a vaquero as there is,” said friend and colleague, Dacodah Herkanoff.

His horse leads the way, wearing an empty saddle with his boots turned back in stirrups. Family and friends follow suit, until they reach a sacred spot.

“I think this is where Jay found the most peace,” Herkanoff said.

Jay Torrez, 35, spent hours at the spot, training his rescued mustang Milagro. It was here, in true vaquero fashion, Torrez’s family and friends gathered to tell stories and share memories.

“We are gathered here to say, happy trails and thanks for giving us a wonderful and shining example of what it means to be an amazing human being,” said one rider.

Joe Torrez died suddenly from a heart attack last Sunday. The New Mexico native trained horses, rode waves in Japan, took beatings as a Hollywood stuntman and inspired all who knew him. Now, a man who friends say always put others first, finally has the spotlight.

“He’d say ‘yeehaw’ about this,” said Herkanoff.

Just as a true vaquero always rides on, so will the memory of Jay Torrez.

“There are not a lot of people left like Jay was,” Herkanoff said.

Some of Torrez’s remains are scattered in the same area where his family and friends gathered. It’s also just a stone’s throw from the geographical center of New Mexico.

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