By Adrienne Moore

TRUCKEE (CBS13) — A Portland State student who was seriously hurt on an Amtrak Train in Truckee is speaking for the first time.

Aaron Salazar’s family says that Amtrak originally tried to suggest that he may have been acting distraught and tried to jump, but Salazar says that could not be further from the truth.

Back in May, the 23-year-old was in a coma with severe injuries to his brain and spine, but now he’s awake and talking, trying to set the record straight.

Amtrak police said there is no evidence to suggest he was the victim of a crime, but Salazar’s family believes he was targeted because he is gay.

Nearly seven months after the incident, Salazar admits that he does not remember exactly what happened to him because of his injuries but he is certain of one thing — that he did not jump off the train.

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With his speech still slurred, it’s clearly been a long road to recovery for the Portland State student who was found unconscious with serious injuries on a stretch of tracks.

His cousin Sonia Trujillo said Aaron is speaking and saying, “I did not jump. I would never try to kill myself.”

“Amtrak needs to do their work and figure out what is going on,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo said medics found burns on his lower body and groin area along with injuries that appeared to look like he was beaten. Despite those injuries, she says Amtrak’s initial statement was that it appeared to be a suicide attempt.

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“They said ‘oh, we can’t do anything until he speaks and he says he didn’t do this.’ And now, he’s speaking and it’s silent…. we haven’t heard a thing,” she said.

Oregon lawmakers are now demanding answers. They sent a letter to Amtrak saying, “Aaron is a person of color who also identifies as gay. His injuries suggest this may have been a hate crime against him.”

Amtrak released a statement Thursday saying, “We are glad Aaron is improving and look forward to talking with him and any other witnesses as part of the investigation.”

Adrienne Moore


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