Hopes were expressed last night that Evan White’s condition will improve enough for him to be interviewed by police in the next 48 hours.
His parents, who flew to the US at the weekend, are maintaining a vigil at Scripps Memorial Hospital where he has been in an induced coma since the attack.
The young UCC business student, who lives near Farran Woods in Cork, had travelled to the US recently with friends under the J1 student visa programme.
They were out celebrating his 21st in San Diego’s Pacific Beach quarter when it is understood he became separated from the group.
He was found by police early last Friday morning unconscious and in critical condition lying in an alley off Law St, just a few metres from one of the city’s most popular beaches.
He had severe head and facial injuries.
There were reports that his injuries were so severe, he was “unrecognisable”. One friend said he had been “beaten to a pulp”.
A spokesman for the San Diego Police Department told the Irish Examiner last night it is “not known yet” what caused the injuries because there were no witnesses, and Evan was unconscious.
However, they are treating it as suspected assault pending a formal interview with him.
One theory is that Evan may have become lost in the Pacific Beach area’s vast maze of parallel streets and lanes, and was attacked as he walked alone.
He was rushed by paramedics to Scripp’s trauma centre where his condition has been described as critical, but not life threatening.
Evan played soccer with local clubs and GAA with Éire Óg in Ovens. Pat Malone, the chairman of Éire Óg, where Evan played junior and U21 football, said the shock of what has happened is only beginning to hit the community.
“Evan was involved with us at under-age level and played junior football and was on the under-21 football panel,” he said.
“He was part and parcel of what we are. He was always there for us. He was a quiet young lad, and he comes from a quiet family.”
Club officials were due to meet last night to discuss what supports the club might offer the White family.
“All of our thoughts and prayers are with Evan and his family at this difficult time,” Mr Malone said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.