Dozens go to vigil for Oxnard player hurt in SLO game

Oxnard senior is conscious and responsive after brain surgery, visitors say

dsneed@thetribunenews.comSeptember 20, 2011 

About 50 people gathered at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center on Monday evening to hold hands and pray for the recovery of Adrian Padilla, an Oxnard High School football player who was severely injured in a game Friday.

The vigil was intended for San Luis Obispo High School football players and their families and was organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, or FCA, and the support group Moms in Touch.

Padilla, a senior safety with the Oxnard team, suffered a serious concussion in the Friday night game against San Luis Obispo High School. According to witnesses, he was able to walk off the field but collapsed on the sidelines. He underwent emergency brain surgery over the weekend.

Padilla remains in critical but stable condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit, said Ron Yukelson, Sierra Vista spokesman.

Padilla’s mother, Martha Arenas, was at the prayer vigil but did not speak to the media. The event was lead by Luke Llamas, who acts as a chaplain for several local teams for the FCA.

Llamas and others have visited Padilla in the hospital and found the football player to be conscious and responsive. Llamas said he was able to squeeze his hand.

“He seems like a very brave young man,” Llamas said. “He has a lot of spirit.”

In a statement issued Monday, Oxnard High Principal Eric Riegert said, “Adrian remains hospitalized but is showing some good signs. As of yesterday, he was able to recognize his family members, move all extremities and could respond with ‘thumbs up’ to questions. Despite this, he is still in very serious condition, so we will need to think good thoughts for him.”

San Luis Obispo High School Principal Leslie O’Connor said the support Padilla and his family have received has been “amazing and truly uplifting.” This includes lodging, food and lots of moral support.

An account has been set up for donations at Santa Barbara Bank and Trust under the Adrian Padilla Benefit Account.

Amy Kardel, whose son Haven is a freshman offensive lineman at San Luis Obispo High, said the incident has been upsetting to the players and shows the fragility of the human body.

“There are risks to playing and there are risks to not playing,” she said.

The risks of playing are injuries such as this and the risks of not playing are higher obesity levels and kids getting in trouble because they are bored, she said.

Padilla’s classmates at Oxnard High are also shocked by the incident. Oxnard senior Matt Ramon said the mood on campus Monday was somber as students tried to comprehend what happened to Padilla.

“Nobody wanted to talk about it because it’s just so sad,” Ramon said. “Nobody mentioned it. Everybody was just quiet.”

Ventura County Star reporter Rhiannon Potkey contributed to this report.

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