RENO — Aaron Salazar is described as a happy, outgoing student at Portland State University.
Tuesday, Salazar remained in a coma at Renown Hospital in Reno a week after he was brutally beaten a week ago at an Amtrak station in Truckee. He has a damaged brain stem and a broken pelvis.
“It broke my heart. He did not look like Aaron at all,” his cousin, Sonia Trujillo, told FOX40. “His face was beaten. He was swollen.”
Salazar was traveling from his home in Colorado, back to Oregon. But made a stop in Truckee.
While he was there, he texted his great-grandmother to say he had made a friend and was heading to Sacramento, where he had a 10-hour layover. He never made it.
A station employee found Salazar’s battered body lying next to the train tracks. The injuries to his body have his family wondering whether it was a hate crime.
Salazar is gay. His family says he suffered devastating injuries to his groin area.
“The burns on his leg were horrifying. It did not look like him at all,” Trujillo said. “I believe it was something deeper because the burn marks. Why burn somebody? If you’re gonna hurt somebody, hurt them. But why are you gonna burn somebody?”
Salazar’s family says Amtrak police won’t comment to them, saying it is an ongoing investigation.
Amtrak issued a statement to FOX40 Tuesday afternoon:
The Amtrak Police Department is conducting an ongoing investigation into this incident. 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.
“I first hand saw his injuries. There’s no way that he was pushed off a train or jumped off a train because these are all upper-body injuries,” Trujillo told FOX40.
Visitors to Truckee were shocked to hear about Salazar’s injuries.
“If somebody knows something, they should step forward and help to find out exactly what happened, who caused it to happen and how we can prevent it from happening again,” Truckee visitor Jim Clark said.
Meanwhile, Salazar’s mother keeps vigil at his bedside at the hospital. His family is keeping the faith.
“We’re praying,” Trujillo said. “That’s all we can do for him right now is pray that he pulls through this.”
Salazar’s family has established a GoFundMe campaign.