Questions remain after student is critically injured during Amtrak trip from Denver to Portland


Aaron Salazar

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DENVER — Family members say it’s a real mystery.

A 22-year-old college student boarded an Amtrak train going from Denver to Portland, Oregon, but he was later found unconscious and critically injured, lying near the railroad tracks in Truckee, California.

Aaron Salazar is now in a critical care unit at a hospital in Reno, Nevada. His cousin, Sonia Trujillo, says he has damage to his brain stem, a broken nose, a broken pelvis, and burns on his thigh.

Amtrak police are investigating the incident that happened on May 15.

“The Amtrak Police Department is conducting an ongoing investigation into this incident,” according to a statement. “At this time, there is nothing to suggest criminal intent. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Amtrak Police Department at 800-331-0008.”

But Sonia says the family wants to know what happened to Aaron.

“Aaron sent a text message to his grandmother at 9:06 am. That’s 30 minutes before he went through Truckee, and it said, ‘I met a friend on the train. We’re going to have lunch and explore in Sacramento, ‘cuz they had a ten hour layover, and then he never made it to Sacramento.  He was found in Truckee,” Sonia said.

“Something happened there. You can’t say a kid, you know,  jumped out of a train or fell out of a train and this kid does not have no injuries consistent with a train going  60 to 70 miles an hour. No damage to his clothes.

“There’s not a scratch on his arms or his legs, and you’re flying out of a train?  It makes no sense to me,” she said. “I honestly believe that he was beaten.”

Salazar was in Colorado visiting family, and was headed back to Portland where he attends college at Portland State University.

The family does not yet know the extent of his brain damage.

They have set up this page for donations.

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