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Amtrak Accident Victim, What Happened?

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Amtrak accident victim Aaron Salazar has awakened. What’s the latest news and what are Amtrak and the Truckee Police doing to find out what really happened?

Editor’s note: Aaron Salazar was found by the railroad tracks near Glenshire, unconscious and severely injured, on May 15, 2018. Salazar recently recovered enough to communicate and released a video stating that he did not jump from the train, contrary to what an intial Amtrak investigation suggested.

[Aaron] is doing good. He’s still going to therapy three to four times a week and he’s in the process of learning how to walk again. He has a limited amount of time [for his brain] to recover and he needs to concentrate on his recovery because the mind is really healing right now … The doctors are stating that right now it’s not a good idea for him to be getting interviewed because now he doesn’t remember anything.

When I saw him last he was really upset when I showed him all the articles and what was going on in all the media, and he saw the press conference in Truckee with the Amtrak police and he was upset that they said he jumped out. He goes, “There’s no way … I was happy. There is no way I would ever do that. I would never try to hurt myself.”

We’re hoping that we get somebody involved besides Amtrak. I would love for Truckee to get involved if they would allow it. But I feel like [Amtrak] is hiding something. They’ve been lying to us from the very beginning.

~ Sonia Trujillo, Aaron Salazar’s cousin

We are glad Aaron is improving. We are in contact with his family and they have requested that we not interview Aaron at this time, as he continues to heal. We respect the family’s wishes and remain ready to interview Aaron when he is ready.

~ Olivia Irvin, public relations manager, Amtrak

Editor’s note: Amtrak’s police force is the sole investigative entity in the case. In a May 2018 press conference, Amtrak’s Chief of Police Neil Trugman claimed Amtrak investigators had contacted over 300 people as part of the investigation. Trugman stated, “He [Salazar] shared with them a number of life concerns he was having. A fall from a moving train would cause significant injury. There is no physical evidence or witnesses’ statements to [indicate] a physical altercation occurring on the train. There’s nothing to suggest he involuntarily was removed from that train … All indications right now appear that it was an attempted suicide.”

Our involvement and statement from back in May is still accurate today. As far as we know, this is still an open investigation with Amtrak, but we have not received any updates in several months. We remain willing to help Amtrak in any way that they might request assistance. Aaron’s recovery is truly miraculous and we are overjoyed that he is recovering and doing well. Any inquiries about the investigation should be made directly to Amtrak.

Initially, meaning the first few days, we provided some workspace for Amtrak personnel and other logistical support. Outside the original call for service and locating Aaron, we did not participate in the investigation in any way and there have been no requests [for assistance from Amtrak] since.

~ Rob Leftwich, chief of police, Truckee Police Department

An excerpt from Truckee police’s May 2018 statement:

The Truckee Police Department will never allow a conspiracy or cover-up to occur regarding any incident or investigation. Any suggestions to the contrary reflect a lack of factual information or knowledge of our organization and community. The Truckee Police Department will also never allow a crime against the LGBTQIA community to go unaddressed or uninvestigated. A case where a hate crime was committed would be addressed to the fullest extent of our capabilities. The Truckee community is not in danger and never was. We did not release information out of professional courtesy to Amtrak and to protect the investigative process, as well as the confidentiality of the Salazar family.

We understand how frustrating it can be to not have all the information when there is genuine concern and a desire to help. The Truckee Police Department has no control over the release of substantive information in this incident since another agency is handling the investigation. We do ask, out of respect for Aaron, his family, and for the investigative process that speculation, guessing, or rumors not be the basis for drawing conclusions.

 
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March 14, 2019