Suspect pleads guilty in hit and run of Joshua Valdez

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

The Morgan Hill woman who accidentally hit and critically injured Joshua Valdez with her vehicle this summer pleaded guilty to felony hit and run.

Sandra Arias, 28, pleaded guilty with no conditions at South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill Thursday, according to Santa Clara County supervising deputy district attorney Steve Lowney.

Arias pleaded not guilty to the charge at a hearing in July, but police reports indicate she admitted to hitting Valdez and leaving the scene during interviews with officers shortly after her arrest.

She will be sentenced Jan. 14 at 9 a.m. at South County Courthouse, Lowney said.

The maximum sentence for the charge of felony hit and run causing bodily injury, which authorities charged Arias with shortly after she was arrested in June, is six years in jail.

Arias hit Valdez, a 23-year-old Gilroy High School graduate, early in the morning June 16 with her Volkswagen Beetle while Valdez was walking alone to his home in Morgan Hill, authorities said.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Butterfield Boulevard and San Pedro Avenue. Valdez was walking east across Butterfield Boulevard when he was struck by  Arias who was driving north on Butterfield Boulevard, police said.

Morgan Hill police found Valdez about 1 a.m. June 16, unconscious and breathing laying on the sidewalk next to Butterfield Boulevard. Paramedics arrived and determined he was suffering multiple injuries consistent with a collision with a car.

Arias did not stop at the scene of the accident to help or call for assistance, police said. She was arrested June 21.

Among Valdez’ injuries resulting from the accident were a traumatic brain injury, numerous broken bones, bruised ribs and a bruised lung. He was comatose and in critical condition for several days following the accident, and spent two months in two different hospitals before returning home in August.

Since returning home, Valdez has attended ongoing physical, speech and occupational therapy sessions.

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