Charges Dismissed For Philly Amtrak Train Derailment Tragedy
The judge in the criminal case against Brandon Bostian, the engineer of the train that derailed in 2015 in Philly, has dropped the charges against Bostian citing a lack of evidence. Judge Thomas Gehret said following a hearing that based on the evidence that was presented the deadly incident looks more like and accident than it does criminal negligence. Bostian was facing charges for involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment which would have seen him face over 8 years in prison if convicted.
The Amtrak engineer was arrested in May of this year, as the statue of limitations was fast approaching, after a victim's family filed a criminal complaint.
The Amtrak train that Bostian was operating careened of the tracks on May 12, 2015 after reaching speeds of 106 mph as it approached a curve with a 50-mph speed limit. Of 238 passengers and 5 crew on board, 8 were killed and over 200 injured, 11 critically.
Investigators from the NTSB asserted that Bostian had lost his bearings while being distracted by radio transmission regarding another incident with a train nearby.
One survivor of the deadly crash said in a hearing that the train accelerated into a curve and heard a big bang as her passenger car was sent sliding off the tracks and when she came-to, she was in the woods.
The survivor, Blair Berman, said that she took her headphones off when she felt the train was accelerating too fast and had a look around to see what was happening. She witnessed fellow passengers screaming near the front of the carriage then within a split second she blacked out, and awoke in the woods near the tracks. She went on to say that passengers were stacked on top of each other and that it was surreal.
Berman broke several bones and testified that she ran into Bostian following the crash and that he seemed totally lucid. At first he would not let her use his mobile phone, then he finally let her call her father. She reiterated that he appeared totally alert and aware of the situation, which contradicts what the Philadelphia Police Department concluded in its interview with the engineer shortly after the crash.
Detective Joseph Knoll testified that when he interview Bostian at the hospital, he was asking questions such as if he was in New York yet.
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In Bostian's defense, the detective did note that it was clear Bostian had suffered head injuries by the looks of the cuts and bruises on his head.
The National Transportation and Safety Board found no evidence that Bostian had been distracted by a cellphone or anything else that might impair his judgement or faculties. They added that by Amtrak not installing automatic speed control as a contributing factor in the incident. These automatic controls have since been implemented.
While Eric McClendon of the Philadelphia Police Department's bomb disposal unit found a tablet computer inside Bostian's bag, it has mysteriously gone missing so it could not be investigated by the authorities to determine whether or not he was using it during the time of the derailment. One would imagine that it was not being used, if it was still in its bag.
While the charges have been dropped against the train's operator, potential lawsuits against Amtrak are still a real possibility due to the authorities wag of the finger regarding failure to implement automated speed controls.