Joshua Valdez, the 22-year-old Gilroy High School graduate who was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident, returned to his home in Morgan Hill Thursday after a two-month stay in the hospital.
Valdez, known to his friends and family as “Joshie,” said on the phone Monday that it was “pretty cool” to be back home and he is looking forward to seeing his friends again.
His mother, Stacie Valdez, said Joshie remains in a wheelchair even though he “thinks he can walk.” He has also suffered significant memory loss due to injuries he sustained in the June 16 accident at Butterfield Boulevard and San Pedro Avenue.
“He’s trying hard to remember things. He’s lost a couple years,” Stacie Valdez said. “He’s not remembering where we live. In 2009, we lived in Gilroy, and that’s where he thinks we’re still living at.”
Joshie graduated from Gilroy High School in 2008.
He continues to heal, and goes to weekly speech, physical and occupational therapy sessions, Stacie said. She added that he has recognized most of his friends and family who have visited him since the accident, but she doesn’t want to “overwhelm” him with a flood of visitors who are eager to see him.
Joshie said on the phone that his mother told him about the accident. His speech was slurred and he gave short responses to a reporter’s questions.
Morgan Hill police found Joshie unconscious and breathing near the Butterfield Boulevard and San Pedro Avenue intersection about 1 a.m. June 16. Authorities determined he had been walking across the street by himself when he was struck by a motorist who did not stop to help or call for assistance.
Joshie suffered a head injury as a result of the accident, as well as several broken bones including a broken leg, road rash and bruises, according to his friends. He was in critical condition at San Jose Regional Medical Center for several days following the accident, and remained at the hospital as his condition improved over the next several weeks.
Arrested June 20 in relation to the accident was Sandra Arias, 28 of Morgan Hill. Arias was charged with felony hit and run causing injury, and pleaded not guilty to the crime at South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill in July.
Arias’ next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 18 at South County Courthouse.
Joshua Diget of Gilroy, a longtime friend of Joshie’s, noted that Valdez has been posting comments on his Facebook page the last few days. He and other friends can’t wait to see him at his home again, Diget said.
“There’s so much excitement and overwhelming love it’s amazing,” Diget said. “It’s a huge relief, after all this he was able to pull through.”
Joshie’s return home says a lot about the young man’s will power, Diget said.
“(Doctors said) he could have recovered or never woken up – it was all on the strength of his mind and his body,” Diget said. “Seeing Joshie recovering this fast from something so traumatic shows how strong of a character he is, physically and mentally.”