Lawmakers seek answers after PSU student found in coma
Oregon lawmakers are demanding answers after a student at Portland State University was apparently "brutally" injured while riding on an Amtrak train in California.
Aaron Salazar — who the lawmakers described as a gay student of color — remains in a coma with serious injuries to his brainstem plus a broken pelvis, nose and unexplained burns to his groin and thighs after he was found by railroad tracks near the Nevada border on May 15.
The letter calls the incident a possible "hate crime" and calls on Amtrak police to utilize all resources in coordination with the local police department. It was signed by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici.
"The timing of this incident happens just one year after a white supremacist began harassing two women of color on Portland transit," the lawmakers wrote on May 25 in a message to Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson.
"There are too many stories like these and too many lives lost or injured due to hate crimes in our communities," they continued.
Salazar, 22, was onboard a train traveling from Denver to Portland when it made a short stop in Truckee, California near Lake Tahoe, according to a report in the Reno Gazette Journal.
Amtrak released a statement stating there's no evidence "to suggest criminal intent," though family members told the Gazette Journal the company won't explain exactly where or when Salazar was found. The family does not believe Salazar was suicidal, and told the newspaper the injuries seemed like they were caused by a "beating."
Cryptically, Salazar apparently texted his grandmother that he'd "made a friend" on the train and that they were planning to explore Sacramento in the hours before he was severely injured.
Salazar was studying economics at Portland State, according to an article in the student newspaper, and had participated in work-study programs and joined a student fee committee. He grew up in Hawaii and graduated from Kaiser High School in 2015.
Oregon lawmakers want Amtrak to send a full report to them and Salazar's family.