A man is in a coma after he was found beaten, burnt and left in a rail yard after an alleged homophobic hate crime attack.
Aaron Salazar, 22 - who is openly gay - had been travelling back to Portland on Amtrak from his home in Colorado but he never made it to his final destination.
Salazar sent a text message to his great grandmother saying he had “a layover before getting on the next train, according to the Los Angeles Blade.
“I made a friend on the train and we’re going to go get some food and explore.”
That was the last anyone heard of him before his body was found beaten and burnt with damage to his brain stem and a broken pelvis beside a set of California train tracks.
His cousin, Austin Sailas, said he is in a deep coma in the ICU suffering from injuries “consistent from being kicked and beaten”.
Sailas added that his cousin has a black eye, broken pelvis and a series of blister-type burns from his groin area down to his right leg.
“His left hand had marks as if he punched somebody in self-defence,” Sailas added.
According to another family member, Sonja Trujillo, police claim Salazar may have jumped but she believes this is not the case.
Trujillo said: “The detective keeps trying to tell us maybe he jumped. We don’t believe that.
“No, his injuries are consistent with a beating, in my opinion. He was happy.”
Although in a coma, his family – who have set up a gofundme page to raise money for his medical bills – revealed he has been trying to open his eyes.
They wrote: “Hello everyone, After some time for Aaron to heal, and for the family to get the word out we are posting a new update.
“Aaron has been trying to open his eyes recently and we are very optimistic, we can feel his presence in his eyes.
“Aaron is still healing from the burns, and has been fighting a fever but still his progress is remarkable.
“Unfortunately, as many know, we have been fighting with the Amtrak department for answers and at this point we are expecting a very long, and expensive process and are ready to fight. #justiceforAaron”