22-year-old hit, left on the road

Friends of Joshie Valdez oraganize a vigil and fundraiser for Valdez' medical cost Monday evening at the Community and Cultural Center. Valdez suffered critical injuries in what police think was a hit and run Friday night while he was walking home.

Joshua Valdez, the young man who was found lying unconscious near a Morgan Hill intersection with numerous broken bones, remains in a coma following what police think is the result of a hit-and-run accident.

Since being transported to San Jose Regional Medical Center late Friday night, Valdez, 22, has opened his eyes twice – once when he “glared” at a nurse who attempted to place a pillow underneath his leg, and once earlier this week when he “stared off a good couple of minutes” and went back to sleep, according to longtime friend Josh Diget.

Valdez, who is known to his many friends as “Joshie,” was found by police on the ground near Butterfield Boulevard and San Pedro Avenue about 1 a.m. Saturday.

Police determined that Valdez was walking home by himself shortly before he was injured, and they think his many injuries were caused by a moving car whose driver apparently did not stop to help at the accident scene.

Valdez’ injuries include a broken pelvis, broken leg, fluid in his lungs that has since been drained, fractured ribs, bruised lungs, two fractured shoulder blades, road rash to the left side of his back and three broken vertebrae, according to Diget.

He also suffered a head injury that resulted in bleeding and swelling that has been drained by paramedics and hospital staff, Diget said. When a nurse asked him to hold up two fingers at one point Thursday, Valdez did so, Diget said. Plus, as of Thursday afternoon, Valdez had been breathing on his own, without the aid of a mechanical respirator, for a couple of hours.  

Morgan Hill police urge anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the area around the time Valdez was found to call (408) 779-2101. Police are reviewing video surveillance from a nearby business for evidence, Morgan Hill police Sgt. Troy Hoefling said. The vehicle that hit Valdez is likely to have damage to the front end, and possibly to the right side.

Officers responding to an unrelated call reporting a suspicious person in the area found the injured Valdez, said Hoefling who added that it’s clear Valdez was not the suspect related to that call.

Police say Valdez was walking home from a friend’s house. He parted with a friend near the intersection of Church Street and San Pedro Avenue some time between midnight and 12:30 a.m. Valdez continued walking by himself east on San Pedro Avenue toward his home, police said.

The suspicious person call was related to a “white male subject with short hair, falling down and looking into cars” at Luz America Fish at the corner of Railroad and Barrett avenues, Hoefling said.

Employees of the business made that call, he added.

Valdez has lived in Morgan Hill for about a year with his mother, but he grew up in Gilroy and that’s where most of his friends remain. Those friends held a vigil Monday at the Morgan Hill community center. About 70 people attended, and raised about $300 for Valdez’ medical expenses by selling handmade ribbons and cupcakes.

Another vigil is scheduled to start about 4 p.m. Tuesday at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, a frequent hangout spot for Valdez, Diget and their friends.

Valdez’ friends describe the young man who graduated from GHS in 2008 as a helpful, loving, caring person who enjoys electronic music and has spent many hours serving his community by helping out at the homeless shelter and helping others in need.

Diget set up a Facebook page titled “Prayers for Joshie” shortly after he was hospitalized. As of Thursday, more than 1,200 people were members of the page which had raised more than $1,500 for medical costs through a wepay.com account linked to the page.

Valdez’ mother attended the vigil. Asked about her son, she managed to chuckle.

“No kid’s an angel,” she said. “He’s smart, very intelligent and very outgoing.”

With his long hair and piercings he “doesn’t look approachable, but all you’ve got to do is say ‘Hi’ and he’ll hug you and give you whatever you need.”

She was impressed that less than three days after her son was hospitalized that more than 1,000 people had already become members of a Facebook page dedicated to sending prayers his way.

“Everybody loves him,” Stacie said.

When he introduces his friends to his mother, he always tells them, “Call her ‘Mom,’ ” she said.

Diget and other friends of Valdez’ plan to have fundraisers and vigils as long as he is in the hospital.

Friends from Santa Cruz to Hawaii have been sending get-well wishes to Valdez since he was hospitalized.

The friends are also trying to raise awareness of Valdez’ condition, and get as many people as they can to say prayers and send thoughts his way in an effort to heal the young man who loves life too much and is too “stubborn,” in his mother’s words, not to recover.

“The more positive vibes we send out the better he’s going to get,” said another longtime friend, Kaitlin Muraoka, of Gilroy.

“He’s affected everyone here in a loving, passionate way,” Muraoka continued at Monday’s vigil. “He’s a big ball full of love and sunshine.”

Valdez works at Del Monaco Foods in Morgan Hill, where he has worked for about the last six months, but he recently lost his health insurance coverage.

“This is the first real job he’s ever had,” Stacie Valdez said.

He plans to go back to school, and study to become a massage therapist or sports therapist, his mother added.

Valdez has “loved music his whole life,” and has produced electronic music on the computer, Diget said.

He “loves Burning Man,” going on campouts, hanging out in the park and just about anything that “involves being outside,” his friend Carissa Pierotti, 22, said.

“He enjoys life. He’s that person that reaches out to everyone,” she added.

Diget, Muraoka and Pierotti wore freshly pressed T-shirts with Valdez’ picture on the front. They plan to make more of the shirts and sell them at future fundraisers.

Muraoka called Valdez “the advice guru,” as he seems to be the friend to whom everyone turns with questions or a personal dilemma.

Donations for Valdez’ medical expenses can be made online through wepay.com/donations/donations-for-joshie-his-family.

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