‘Joshie’ out of a coma, starting speech therapy

From left, Reilly Barton, Kaitlin Muraoka, Jessie Newman and Brad Gulan laugh as friends share their favorite memories during a vigil for Joshua "Joshie" Valdez Tuesday at Christmas Hill Park. Valdez was struck Saturday June 16th and remains critically in

Joshua Valdez, 22, the Morgan Hill resident who was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident last month, is no longer comatose and recently started speech therapy at San Jose Regional Medical Center.

“He looks a lot better today than he did last week,” his mother Stacie Valdez said Thursday.

While the Gilroy High School graduate is still unable to talk, his mother said he has begun to eat “super soft” food like pudding, and drink water even though he remains on a feeding tube.

Doctors have also removed a tracheotomy from Joshua’s windpipe and he is no longer on a respirator, Stacie said.

“He’s trying to talk, but it’s not really loud or clear enough,” said his mother.

Joshua, or “Joshie” as he is known to his friends, is awake “most of the time,” Stacie added.

Valdez suffered a head injury, numerous broken bones, bruised ribs and a bruised lung in the June 16 accident near the intersection of Butterfield Boulevard and San Pedro Avenue.

His long-term prognosis is not completely clear yet, but doctors have told Stacie that patients with similar head injuries have been known to fully recover, if slowly.

“They said it depends on how much he’s able to retain and put back into his memory to make it work,” Stacie said.

He recognizes his mother and the few visitors he is allowed, and he indicates this by trying to raise his hands – which are restrained due to the feeding tube – to wave a greeting.

“When you stand next to his bed he’ll look at you and blow you kisses – but not to the nurses,” Stacie chuckled.

Joshua will also likely have to undergo surgery on one of his knees, which was hyper-extended in the accident resulting in ligament damage, his mother said. Doctors said that is likely the only surgery he will require in relation to the broken bones.

His mother is hoping he will be transferred to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center soon, where he will be able to see more visitors.  

Morgan Hill police officers found Joshua lying near the intersection of Butterfield Boulevard and San Pedro Avenue about 1 a.m. June 16. He was unconscious and breathing, and paramedics who arrived at the scene determined he had been hit by a car.

Police also determined that Joshua was walking across the intersection by himself when the accident happened.

Arrested June 21 in relation to the accident was Sandra Arias, 28 of Morgan Hill. She pleaded not guilty to the charge of felony hit and run causing injury at South County Courthouse July 6. Her next hearing is Aug. 10 at the same venue.

Arias faces a maximum sentence of six years in jail if convicted.

Joshua’s friends and family will hold a vigil for him, and a fundraiser for his medical expenses July 25, at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, Stacie Valdez said. The event starts at 5 p.m.

Friends will be selling T-shirts, cupcakes, ribbons and bracelets, and auctioning off some items for the fundraiser, Stacie added.

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