Investigation continues on man found on Truckee railroad tracks | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Investigation continues on man found on Truckee railroad tracks

Hannah Jones
hjnones@sierrasun.com

Portland State University student, Aaron Salazar, was taking an Amtrak train back to school from Denver when he was found unconscious and in critical condition near the train tracks in Truckee.

Amtrak police said there is no indication of criminal activity regarding Aaron Salazar, a 22-year-old man found unconscious and in critical condition near the railroad tracks in Truckee three months ago.

“The investigation remains open, pending any new information or the opportunity to interview Mr. Salazar,” the statement read.

Salazar was recently moved to Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Englewood, Colorado to be closer to his family.

According to a Tuesday post on a GoFundMe page set up by Salazar’s family he has begun to speak.

“When asked about the train, he sadly cannot remember,” Austin Sailas, Salazar’s cousin, said in the post. According to Sailas, his cousin’s doctors said this is a result of the damage from his injury and his brain protecting him from trauma.

“With time and therapy he might be able to remember things on his own,” he said. Sailas said Salazar is no longer bedridden, is now in a wheelchair and has also begun eating solid food.

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“Aaron has a long road ahead of him. We are very optimistic,” said Sonia Trujillo, another cousin in a Facebook message.

On May 15, Salazar was taking a train from Denver back to Portland, where he attended Portland State University, when he was found unconscious near the railroad tracks at the far-east end of Truckee. He was checked into Renown Hospital in Reno after sustaining injuries to his upper body, including a broken pelvis, damaged brain stem and strange burns on the inside of his thighs, according to Trujillo.

Family members speculated Salazar’s injuries could be the result of a hate crime, as he is gay.

Amtrak Police Department has held that there is no evidence of a physical altercation and stated that it is likely he jumped from the train in a suicide attempt. His parents have strongly objected, calling Amtrak’s investigation of their son a “smear campaign to sweep Aaron’s story under the rug.”

Since then his family has created a petition requesting that the investigation be handed over to the FBI.

ELECTED OFFICIALS WANT ANSWERS

In addition, both congressional delegations of Oregon and Hawaii, Salazar’s home state, have signed letters urging Amtrak to release a thorough investigation as quickly as possible.

“Aaron is a person of color who also identifies as gay, and his injuries suggest that this incident may have been a hate crime against him during an Amtrak layover in Truckee, California,” Oregon’s congressional delegation wrote to Amtrak president and CEO Richard Anderson.

The letter was signed by Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici.

A letter signed by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Sen. Brian Schatz and Representatives Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard stated, “while the Hawai’i Congressional District respects the investigation process, we expect that Amtrak will conduct a thorough investigation and provide us and the Salazar family with a comprehensive and timely report of the events leading up to Mr. Salazar’s injuries.”