UPDATED: Hit-and-run victim remains comatose

Joshua Valdez

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.

Valdez, 22, who is known to his many friends as “Joshie,” was transported to San Jose Regional Medical Center late Friday night, when police found him on the ground near Butterfield Boulevard and San Pedro Avenue.

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 his longtime friend Josh Diget, 20, of Gilroy.

He also suffered a head injury that resulted in bleeding and swelling that has been drained by paramedics and hospital staff, Diget said. He remains on a feeding tube and mechanical respirator.

“He’s still showing brain function, and he hasn’t gotten worse,” Diget said.

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.

Officers responding to an unrelated call in the area found the 2008 Gilroy High School graduate about 1 a.m. Saturday. He was unconscious but breathing, according to Morgan Hill police Sgt. Troy Hoefling.

Valdez was walking home earlier in the evening, and had parted with a friend near the intersection of Church Street and San Pedro Avenue after midnight, Hoefling said. Valdez continued walking east on San Pedro Avenue.

When paramedics arrived to the scene shortly after police found Valdez, they determined his injuries were consistent with a pedestrian being hit by a moving vehicle, Hoefling said.

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.

About 70 people attended a vigil and fundraiser for Valdez Monday night at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center. His friends decorated posters urging prayers for him, and made labels for donation cans to be situated at local establishments.

Valdez moved to Morgan Hill with his mother about a year ago, but he grew up in Gilroy, according to Diget, who set up a Facebook page titled “Prayers for Joshie” shortly after he was hospitalized.

Through a wepay.com account linked to the Facebook page, the community has raised about $1,200 for Valdez’ medical expenses, Diget said.

They also raised about $300 at Monday’s vigil, through the sale of cupcakes and handmade ribbons.

Valdez’ mother attended the vigil. She chuckled when asked what kind of person her son is.

“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 more fundraisers and vigils in the future, continuing as long as he is in the hospital.

Money raised will go toward Valdez’ medical costs, his friends said. They were “up all night” Sunday making ribbons and cupcakes to sell at the vigil. 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 personal dilemma.

Diget added that over the weekend in the hospital, Valdez displayed some clear attempts to wake up. He squeezed his mother’s hand while seemingly unconscious, and even opened his eyes briefly and “glared” at a nurse who tried to move him and place a pillow under his leg.

He also made a “gurgling” noise in the hospital, which Diget described as Valdez’ body “still trying to respond” to external stimuli.

Donations for Valdez’ medical expenses can be made online at https://www.wepay.com/donations/donations-for-joshie-his-family

Anyone with any information about the incident that caused Valdez’ injuries can contact the Morgan Hill police department at (408) 779-2101.


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