Portland State University student, Aaron Salazar, text his great-grandma last week to tell her he made a new friend. He was on a 31-hour train ride to his home in Oregon from Denver. Texting from rural Truckee, California, he was close to Sacramento for a 10-hour layover. He never got the opportunity to arrive in Sacramento.
A train station worker found a badly injured Salazar lying near the tracks and called the authorities. The Amtrak police are now investigating. Truckee police say that Amtrak police have jurisdiction when a crime takes place on a train, but Salazar’s family said the railway has a conflict of interest in investigating the case.
Salazar’s cousin, Sonia Trujillo, says that Amtrak is not talking to the family because the investigation is ongoing. However, all they want is for Amtrak to work with the local police to investigate. She stated,
What I’m concerned about is, we’re dealing with the Amtrak police department on an Amtrak train. I don’t know if they’re trying to protect the train or if they’re trying to protect the people.
The young man was found with a lot of damage to his groin. His pelvis is broken and has significant burns to his inner thighs. The brain stem is damaged. Doctors have told Salazar’s family that the sustained injuries are consistent with that of a beating but can’t put speculation into a report when there is an ongoing investigation. However, Amtrak police are maintaining that there is no evidence of a crime.
How bizarre is it that this young man did not make it past the stop where he told his grandma about his new “friend?” According to his cousin, his sexuality may have made him a victim. She thinks the local authorities should be brought into the investigation because, technically, he was not found on a train.
It certainly does seem suspicious that right after a young man makes a friend on a train, he is found injured and is still comatose a week later. Perhaps his sexuality offended the wrong bigot in Truckee. The man’s injuries certainly aren’t consistent with becoming besties with a nice stranger.