In May, 22-year-old Portland State University student Aaron Salazar was found unconscious alongside Amtrak rail tracks near Truckee, California. While doctors said Salazar's injuries were consistent with someone who was brutally beaten, Amtrak officials were quick to call it a suicide attempt.
Now, six months after the incident, Salazar is setting the record straight.
“I'd never, ever try to kill myself," Salazar said in a video posted on a Facebook page managed by his family.
It's the first public statement Salazar has made since the incident, which left him with a damaged brain stem, a broken pelvis, burns on his crotch and thighs, and a badly beaten face. He was unable to speak for months.
Salazar was en route to Portland from Colorado when railroad workers discovered his body. His injuries immediately raised questions about whether Salazar, who is gay, had been the victim of a hate crime.
But Amtrak Chief of Police Neil Trugman told reporters that, based on earlier conversations Salazar had reportedly had with fellow train passengers, "all indications right now appear that it was an attempted suicide.” Trugman suggested that Salazar threw himself from the Amtrak train.
In the new video, Salazar is clear: "I did not not jump off the train."
Salazar did not offer any other details or memories about the incident.
The FBI is not as quick as Amtrak to dismiss Salazar's case. In September, an FBI agent collected Salazar's DNA to run it against DNA found on his clothing after the incident, according to Honolulu Civil Beat (Salazar grew up in Oahu).If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, the Portland Suicide Lifeline is 503-972-3456. And for those outside of Portland, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) or 1-800-273-8255. You can also text "help" to 741-741.