A gay man found near train tracks in California lies in a coma as authorities try to piece together the mystery behind his injuries.
Investigators say the evidence points to a possible suicide attempt, but the family of 22-year-old Aaron Salazar believe foul play is involved.
The economics major at Portland State University was traveling from Colorado to Portland on May 15.
According to his cousin Austin Sailas, Salazar’s last communication was a text message to his great-grandmother at about 11 a.m.
“He told her, ‘I have another layover in Sacramento, but right now I’m going to go get some food and explore with this friend I met on the train,’” Sailas said. “That was the last anyone heard from him.”
Salazar is currently in a hospital in Reno, Nevada, where doctors say his brain stem was damaged. His family says doctors believe the injuries are consistent with a beating.
In addition to the brain injuries, Salazar was found with a broken pelvis and a strange burn mark on his crotch.
In that Salazar’s body was found on Amtrak property, the Amtrak Police Department in charged with the investigation. But Sailas isn’t convinced that Amtrak is digging deep enough pointing to Salazar’s untouched laptop and cellphone as possible sources for clues.
“They’ve been shady about the whole investigative process,” Sailas said. “They won’t even tell us where he was found, other than it is private property. They’re just saying that they’re looking into the idea that he jumped from a moving train.”
According to Sailas, Amtrak informed the family that if any doors or windows had been opened while the train was moving, a notification would have been triggered. Amtrak says no incidents were reported that day.
Salazar’s family has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for growing hospital expenses.
Anyone with information in this case is asked to contact the Amtrak Police Department at 800-331-0008.