J.D. was a star wide receiver at Sammamish High School. In college, he helped Boise State win the Fiesta Bowl. Lately, his mom says, the 24-year-old has been working at a Pro Sports Club and taking classes at Washington State University. He is just a few classes away from getting his degree. (Images courtesy friends and family of J.D. Aylward)
When Colleen Aylward left for her Mexican vacation, she never imagined it would end with her racing home to find her son beaten and unconscious in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center.
He was a friendly, thoughtful young man. J.D. didn't have a father in his life, so he gravitated toward coaches and sports from an early age. He grew up playing football.
"He really went for the sports thing. Not because he has any killer instinct at all, but because it's such a team thing," recalls his mom, Colleen.
J.D. was a star wide receiver at Sammamish High School. In college, he helped Boise State win the Fiesta Bowl. Lately, his mom says, the 24-year-old has been working at a Pro Sports Club and taking classes at Washington State University. He is just a few classes away from getting his degree.
"J.D.'s sort of an old soul in a new body, and he always has been. He's very peace loving, peace making, a little bit shy and then on the other hand very outgoing and gregarious."
He was out with friends at the Munch Bar in Bellevue Saturday night. There had been a wedding earlier, and he had left with some of the other guests to continue the celebration.
At around 2:20 a.m. on Sunday, J.D. made one final phone call to let his friends know he was getting a ride home from the bar. At 4 a.m. his bloody body was discovered on 140th Street in Bellevue, just a few blocks from his house. He had been beaten and left for dead.
"He had half his skull taken off and was getting it stapled back on, and, he just looked terrible, non-responsive," says Colleen.
He was on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. No one seemed to know who had attacked him or why - not even J.D.
"The second day he was a little responsive, but really, still so beat up. He opened his eyes once and he knew that it was me, and he just said 'Why?'," recalls his mom.
The hours between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. are unaccounted for.
"Piecing things from Munch Bar to finding him in the street in a pool of blood unconscious is what we're aiming to find out," says Colleen.
He wasn't robbed. Police found his passport, credit card and I.D. in his pockets. He was still wearing his expensive watch. His cell phone was still on him.
Bellevue Police say it is an open investigation, but they have told the family little more. Meanwhile, J.D. has been on a ventilator in a medically induced coma.
Doctors are weaning him off the medication now. They are hoping he might open his eyes soon. If all goes well he could be taken off the ventilator Saturday and moved out of the intensive care unit.
"I think he's going to be overwhelmed at the amount of people that have been here and that are still here," says Colleen.
So many visitors have to come to support J.D., the nurses have actually asked they move out of the waiting room to the cafeteria where there is more space.
J.D.'s "second mom" Karen Bright is not surprised at the outpouring of love. Her twin sons, Danny and Thomas, have been best friends with J.D. since elementary school.
"This particular group of boys amaze me," says Karen. "J.D. has two really good friends that are flying in, one from California and one from Miami, who've been devastated by this."
Karen says J.D. was even close to her mother. When he was away at college with her sons, she says they would visit "Oma" in the Tri-Cities even more often than they would come home to see their friends in Bellevue.
"My mother, who just recently passed away, called him 'Just Delicious.' That's how special he was. She loved him," Karen remembers.
J.D.'s family has set up a Web site to update friends about his progress. Thousands of people have already checked in.