Amtrak Suggests PSU Student Found Near Tracks May Have Attempted Suicide

By Ericka Cruz Guevarra (OPB)
Portland, Ore. May 30, 2018 5 p.m.
Aaron Salazar, 22, is a student at Portland State University.

Aaron Salazar, 22, is a student at Portland State University.

Courtesy of Austin Sailas

Amtrak says it has still found no evidence of criminal intent in the case of a gay Portland State University student found unconscious and suffering from life-threatening injuries near train tracks in Northern California, suggesting instead that 22-year-old Aaron Salazar may have attempted suicide.


“Individuals we spoke to noted their interactions with Mr. Salazar, during which he shared with them a number of life concerns and challenges he was having," said Amtrak Police Chief Neil Trugman at a press conference Tuesday.

"We are unable to comment on Mr. Salazar’s medical condition, but note that a fall from a moving train would cause significant injury."

Salazar's family has maintained Salazar was attacked and beaten while traveling by Amtrak train from Denver to Portland on May 15. Salazar was found lying unconscious near train tracks between Reno, Nevada, and Truckee, California. His family says he suffered from multiple brain injuries, a broken pelvis and severe burns on his thighs. Members of Oregon's congressional delegation have said Salazar may have been the target of a hate crime.

"Amtrak’s investigators only investigated the case as an attempt at suicide," Salazar's parents said in a statement.

Salazar's parents said they had problems with Amtrak's press conference, adding Salazar's injuries are not consistent with jumping from a train.


Related: Oregon Leaders: PSU Student Found Unconscious May Have Been Hate Crime Target

"We are also surprised by this false theory because they have never had medical experts examine his body to determine the cause of his injuries," they said. "Their form of investigation has been little more than a smear campaign to sweep Aaron's story under the rug like Robin Putnam's case a few years ago."

Salazar remains unconscious and hospitalized, though his family says his condition has improved.

Truckee Police Department Chief Robert Leftwich said Salazar was found in an area of the railway that does not have pedestrian or vehicle access points.

"You have to be there with purpose," Leftwich said.

Trugman said a foreman saw the Amtrak train go by with an open window in one of its coaches but failed to notify Amtrak until later.

Salazar's unconscious body was discovered later that morning.

Portland State University released the following statement on Salazar's case:

"The PSU community is deeply saddened to receive news about Aaron Salazar's condition. We are praying for him and his family during this difficult time. We have reached out to Aaron's family to offer them support."