Aaron Salazar, whose mysterious injuries sustained on or near an Amtrak train headed toward Sacramento, is conscious, according to his family.
“Aaron’s conscious and his eyes are open,” said his cousin Austin Sailas. “He has been moved to another facility but still cannot talk. Honestly he’s going to need therapy to learn how to talk again. He can squeeze your hand and give you a thumbs up, but that’s about it.”
Salazar sustained a number of injuries four miles east of Truckee, Calif. en route to his final destination of Portland. He had texted his grandmother in Hawaii telling her of plans to meet a friend in Sacramento for lunch before he was found unconscious with severe injuries next to the train tracks.
A fundraising event is set for tomorrow at the University of Nevada, Reno from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the lawn of the Knowledge Center
The family is still seeking answers from authorities and is requesting that the FBI take over the investigation into what happened to Salazar.
“Amtrak really hasn’t talked with us at all,” said Sailas. He also mentioned that people contacted by the Amtrak Police Department, which is basically saying Salazar tried to commit suicide, have come forward to the family with their concerns about Amtrak’s handling of the investigation.
“The people interviewed feel as though Amtrak’s questions were loaded, and the investigation felt dishonest,” Sailas added. “The FBI called Aaron’s mom and may get involved soon.”
Salazar’s family has raised nearly $65,000 to help with Aaron’s medical bills and to hire an attorney to advocate on behalf of his family. The family said that his injuries could be a hate crime, as Salazar identifies with being gay.
“Amtrak’s investigators only investigated the case as an attempt at suicide,” the family said in a statement.
A number of Amtrak passenger deaths have occurred in recent years, some with unexplained circumstances similar to Salazar’s.
Amtrak maintains that many of those are accidents or suicide attempts. Families in those cases also expressed dismay at what they said was a lack of transparency by Amtrak.
Oregon’s congressional delegation formally requested that Amtrak investigate the matter openly and responsibly.
Sean Savoy, interim chair of Reno’s Human Rights Commission, also requested more transparency.
“The events surrounding this case leave us wondering how and why a young gay man traveling back to college could be so brutally injured without explanation,” he told ThisisReno. “The LGBTQ community is often not safe in places of public accommodation.
“This is an opportunity to highlight the importance of solidarity throughout the region among all concerned parties for the well-being of the LGBTQ community, which in the current political climate, continues to be targeted with hostility and violence.”
This story is developing and may be updated with new information.