SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A popular college student from Santa Barbara is recovering from a violent attack. It happened last weekend, near UC Berkeley, where Thayer White is a sophomore.
White made a lasting impression on classmates while attending San Marcos High School, where coaches and classmates are rooting for him.
"We wanted to do something to honor him," said Ethan Habecker, a high school senior and a friend of White's.
Habecker held out a golf ball, emblazoned with the Royals mascot and inked with a "T" and a "W" for Thayer White. It was a good luck charm, of sorts, during Thursday's golf tournament.
"He wasn't a vocal leader but was a quiet leader," said Aaron Solis, San Marcos High's Activities Director. "He led by example."
White was a giant of a student at San Marcos -- physically and academically -- whether he was in the classroom, shooting hoops or swinging a golf club. White's two year absence from campus since graduation has done nothing to fade his reputation.
"He was such a big figure on campus," said Habecker. " A strong leader, great athlete. His presence is still felt on this campus."
Now, as a sophomore at UC Berkeley -- thanks in part to a golf scholarship -- White is facing his greatest physical challenge, from a bed in the intensive care unit in Castro Valley.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office confirms White was attacked early Sunday morning in the parking lot of the Zeta Psi fraternity house. The police report describes how White and a group of fraternity friends got into an argument and punches were exchanged with a group of strangers who showed up uninvited. The report describes White's group as "a group of white males" and the party crashers as "a group of black males."
Moments later, a silver hatchback pulled up and a man known as AR-Watson (who is later identified in legal documents as Frank Paul Watson) grabbed a baseball bat from the trunk. Witnesses say Watson walked over to White and without warning, swung the bat and struck him in the head. A second man was also attacked.
Responding officers found both men lying on the ground. White had a large amount of blood on his face and was possibly bleeding from the back of the head. The second victim appeared incoherent and possibly had head trauma.
By Monday, White's mother Michele had created an online journal through the Caring Bridge website. Her posts update family and friends about White's progress and challenges. In it, Michele describes how her son suffered a blow to his left temple which caused a severe brain bruise and a small skull fracture.
"It's a lot of shock and awe that it happened to him," said Solis. "But it also makes the kids stand back; this could happen to anyone if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shows how fragile life can be sometimes."
Those close to the White family say the hope is, White will be transferred to Cottage Hospital where he's able to make a full recovery.
"Get better soon man," said Habecker. "We're all rooting for you here at San Marcos."
Police say Watson has a history of weapons-related charges. He faces nearly a handful of additional charges including two counts of attempted murder. Watson is being held in the Santa Rita jail without bail.