Woman arrested in hit and run of ‘Joshie’

Joshie Valdez

Five days after police found 22-year-old Joshua Valdez lying unconscious late at night in the middle of a busy Morgan Hill intersection, the comatose local resident’s friends are “relieved” that a suspect was arrested in relation to the hit-and-run that apparently caused his injuries.

Meanwhile, the young man known as “Joshie” who was found lying unconscious on the road more than a week ago remains comatose in critical condition, but has shown slow improvements in his responsiveness to those around him, according to his friend.

Sandra Arias, 28 of Morgan Hill, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of felony hit and run in connection with the collision with Valdez, who was on foot at the intersection of Butterfield Boulevard and San Pedro Avenue where he was struck, according to Morgan Hill police Sgt. Shane Palsgrove.

Accused by police of felony hit and run, Arias has not yet been charged by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, according to South County supervising Deputy District Attorney Steve Lowney. Morgan Hill police are still investigating the crime, and had not yet sent their case to prosecutors as of Monday. Arias’ arraignment is scheduled for July 6.

She was released from the county jail on $35,000 bail about noon Friday, according to Santa Clara County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Cardoza.

Arias was arrested about 9:15 p.m. at her home at the Cochrane Village apartment complex on Butterfield Boulevard, police said.

Someone called police earlier that day to report they saw a silver Volkswagen Beetle with “fresh” front-end damage parked near the intersection of Butterfield Boulevard and Jarvis Drive, according to Morgan Hill police Sgt. Shane Palsgrove.

Officers examined the vehicle, determined the damages were consistent with a collision with a pedestrian and arrested Arias, Palsgrove said.

The suspect agreed to be interviewed by officers, and she was later transported to Santa Clara County Jail and booked on suspicion of felony hit and run, police said.

Valdez, who graduated from Gilroy High School in 2008 but moved to Morgan Hill with his mother about a year ago, remains in a coma but has become increasingly responsive since he was hospitalized late last Friday night, according to his friend Josh Diget, of Gilroy.

He was found lying on the street near Butterfield Boulevard and San Pedro Avenue about 1 a.m. Saturday, June 16, police said. He suffered numerous broken bones, was unconscious and paramedics determined he had recently been hit by a vehicle.

Diget added that he and other friends of Valdez’ are “relieved” that a suspect was arrested, as they worried that the motorist who hit Valdez might have been from out of town and difficult if not impossible to identify.

As of Monday morning, Valdez remained in critical condition at San Jose Regional Medical Center, Diget said. His room is still closed to visitors other than his mother. She told Valdez’ friends that a couple of times this weekend he opened his eyes and tried to keep them open as long as he could, even as he drifted back to sleep.

Valdez also lifted his arm to touch his mother’s hand over the weekend – the most movement he has made since being hospitalized, Diget said. While last week a number of times he squeezed his mother’s hand while she grasped his hand, doctors said some of those incidents could be attributed to reflex.

However, the movement of his arm seemed to be a more conscious gesture as his mother was wiping sweat off his head when he reached up, grabbed her hand and pulled it down by his side, Diget said.

Diget and other friends of Valdez’ continue to raise money for his medical expenses and attempt to raise awareness of the accident.

So far, they have raised close to $3,000 through a combination of community fundraisers and a wepay.com account linked to a Facebook page titled “Prayers for Joshie,” Diget said. The friends held a bake sale Sunday that raised about $300, and the friends plan to continue to make and sell T-shirts with Valdez’ photo.

The next scheduled vigil and fundraiser will take place Tuesday at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy starting at 4 p.m.

Residents contacted throughout the Cochrane Village Apartment complex Friday did not claim to know Arias or which unit she lived in. Some said they have seen her silver Volkswagen Beetle, or one that looks like it, driving through the parking lot.

Investigators and volunteers for the police department were scouring the sides of Butterfield Boulevard between Main Avenue and Cochrane Road Friday afternoon in a search of evidence, police said. They were also looking in grassy areas near the apartment complex where Arias lives, and near where her car was parked Thursday.

Her vehicle is currently in police custody and being processed for evidence, according to Palsgrove.

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