THOUSAND PALMS- A cat that survived a crash that killed its owner on Interstate 10 last month will be flown to Pittsburgh on Friday to be with the man’s family, an animal control spokesman said Thursday.
Shadow’s owner, Derrick Raymond Finch, a 36-year-old jazz pianist from Los Angeles, died at the scene of the Feb. 17 wreck on the interstate near Date Palm Drive.
“We want to honor this good man and animal owner … for his musical talents and his love of animals,” said John Welsh, a spokesman for Riverside County Animal Services.
Shadow, who is around a year old, was riding on that day in Finch’s 1995 Isuzu Rodeo when the SUV struck a red 2004 Honda Santa Fe. Both motorists lost control of their vehicles, which overturned.
Finch was thrown from his SUV, even though it appeared he was wearing a seat belt. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver was hospitalized for treatment of major injuries.
“I don’t know how the cat got out,” Welsh said. “Law enforcement described this as a pretty terrible wreck.”
The cat’s only injuries were three teeth that were damaged or broken, which might require surgery eventually, Welsh said. The feline was spayed while staying at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms.
Shadow will be put on a flight scheduled to leave just after midnight Friday to be reunited with Finch’s mother.
The cat will be on a red-eye flight to Houston, where she will receive food and water from humane workers, thanks to a donation by the Friends of the Coachella Valley Animal Campus. The feline will then be loaded onto another flight to Pittsburgh.
Sheila Finch, who lives in the heart of the city where her son grew up, told Welsh that she would be very grateful if the cat could be brought to her.
“My son so loved that cat,” he quoted her as saying.
Welsh said he felt honored to help bring the cat to the musician’s mother because of the pianist’s love for animals and music.
“Getting this cat back to one of the family members and getting the cat back to her, his mom, is just a small gesture on our part to give her some comfort,” Welsh said.
Finch was driving to a performance in New Orleans when his car overturned on I-10. Welsh said Finch always took Shadow with him whenever he went and the cat would ride in the car without being caged.
“Most people will put a cat in a carrier,” Welsh said. “This guy was like his traveling buddy. It breaks our heart that (Finch) is not part of the world any more.”