RENO, Nev. (AP) — The family of a 22-year-old train passenger found severely injured next to railroad tracks in Truckee suspects he may have been the victim of a hate crime, but Amtrak said Saturday that investigators have found no evidence of foul play.
Aaron Salazar’s family believes the Portland State University student, who is gay, was attacked and didn’t jump from the westbound train.
Cousin Sonia Trujillo said basic questions, such as when the company realized he was missing and who spotted him injured trackside, have gone unanswered.
“It’s been 10 days, we need answers,” Trujillo said.
Salazar remains hospitalized in Reno after being found unconscious May 15 while traveling from Denver to Portland, Oregon.
Members of Oregon’s congressional delegation on Friday wrote to Amtrak President Richard Anderson, citing the family’s belief that Salazar was a victim of a hate crime and calling for an investigation using all available resources.
“We expect a full report on the investigation of this crime, to our federal delegation and to Aaron’s family,” said the letter signed by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici.
Amtrak said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened by the significant injuries to one of our customers” and that the Amtrak Police Department’s investigation included reaching out to more than 300 customers, crew and friends.
“The individuals who noted interactions with Mr. Salazar shared that he had expressed to them a number of life concerns and challenges. We are unable to comment on Mr. Salazar’s medical condition, but note that a fall from a moving train would cause significant injury,” the statement said. “There is no evidence of a physical altercation occurring while Mr. Salazar was travelling on Amtrak.”
In a statement sent to FOX40 Tuesday, Amtrak stated in part, “At this time, there is nothing to suggest criminal intent.”
The Truckee Police Department, who is not involved in the investigation, also released a statement. It cited media reports and social media chatter regarding Salazar’s injuries and the family’s belief that he may have been the victim of a hate crime.
“The Truckee Police Department will never allow a conspiracy or cover-up to occur regarding any incident or investigation,” wrote Truckee Police Chief Rob Leftwich. “Any suggestions to the contrary reflect a lack of factual information or knowledge of our organization and community.”
Trujillo said Salazar texted his grandmother a half-hour before the train arrived in Truckee and said he’d made a friend on the train and that they planned to explore Sacramento together.
The Truckee Police Department said officers responded to a call about an injured man lying feet from the tracks. They found Salazar, alive but critically injured.
The police statement indicated that Salazar’s location on the east end of town indicated that he never made it to the Truckee Amtrak station.
Denver, Reno and Truckee are served by Amtrak’s California Zephyr route between Chicago and Emeryville.