Great Wolf Lodge lifeguard arrested on child rape charge

by: Richard Thompson Updated:

GRAND MOUND, Wash. - Amanda Minker of Yelm arrived at the Great Wolf Lodge with her family Wednesday for their annual trip to the popular water park and resort. When she arrived, however, she learned a lifeguard at the lodge had been arrested on suspicion of rape.

"That's not good. Not good at all," said Minker.

Thurston County sheriff's detectives said the lifeguard, Alex Salazar, met a 14-year-old girl who was staying at the lodge with her family from Oregon. According to court documents, Salazar visited with the girl and her sister and later convinced the 14-year-old to leave the lodge with him in his car.

The girl later told detectives Salazar drove down a gravel road, where they began to kiss, but then Salazar escalated the contact and ended up raping the girl several times.

"When the sexual assault started, she very clearly was not consenting," said Lt. Greg Elwin of the Thurston County Sheriff's Office.

Great Wolf Lodge spokesperson Susie Storey told KIRO 7 Salazar was hired last June after passing a background check that showed he had no criminal record.

"The Great Wolf Lodge has a zero-tolerance policy for any sex offenders on our staff," said Storey.

Salazar was arrested Tuesday at Rochester High School, where he is a senior.

Classmate Maddie Smith was stunned by the allegations.

"It's just horrible to hear," she said. "I don't know what would get into him to make him do that. It's just shocking."

Alex Salazar was ordered held on $20,000 bail during a court appearance on Wednesday. If he makes bail, he will be allowed to return to classes and graduate from high school.

Jaime Salazar, the defendant's father, says his son is a good young man.

"This is a shock to me. It's terrible," said the defendant's father.

KIRO 7 South Sound reporter Richard Thompson asked the defendant's father if he thought his son could commit such a crime.

"I'm not sure. He has a girlfriend. He's been good to his girlfriend, so I don't believe he's done this," Jaime Salazar told KIRO 7.

However, Thurston County detectives publicly released Alex Salazar's photo because they are concerned there could be additional victims. They are requesting that anybody with additional information contact the Thurston County Sheriff's Office at 360-786-5500 or Thurston County Crimestoppers at 360-493-2222.