When Conrad Murphy didn’t show up to Saturday morning baseball practice, Valley Center High varsity coach Cliff Bernard hoped for the best.
Maybe the 19-year-old uncharacteristically overslept, he told himself.
“But it just felt like something was wrong,” Bernard said, “and I think a lot of the kids sensed something too.”
At about 7 a.m. Saturday, Murphy, a well-liked senior outfielder and pitcher, was seriously injured in a head-on collision on eastbound Highway 76 near Gird Road in San Luis Rey Heights. He was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center where, as of Sunday, he remained in critical condition.
A 37-year-old Oceanside man in a Ford ranger carrying pest-control chemicals crashed into Murphy. The truck was traveling westbound when it lost traction, causing it to break into eastbound traffic and collide with Murphy’s silver Dodge Ram truck.
Bernard said Murphy was having surgery Sunday, and the following 48 hours would be “crucial.”
Along with playing baseball as Valley Center's clean-up hitter, Murphy also plays the piano, Bernard said.
“He’s just a great young man,” Bernard said. “Very funny, very hard working ... He’s a fighter, and we’re pulling for him.”