Thursday, 05 December, 2019

Engineer charged in deadly Amtrak crash

Attorneys Thomas Kline left Richard Sprague and Robert Mongeluzzi take part in a news conference while standing next to Engineer charged in deadly Amtrak crash
Kelley Robertson | 13 May, 2017, 10:33

"Shortly after 5 pm, my office filed criminal charges against Brandon Bostian, the engineer of the Amtrak 188 train involved in the deadly crash in Philadelphia on May 12, 2015".

The Amtrak train bound for New York City crashed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring hundreds.

The DA's office, however, has referred the prosecution to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, DA spokesman Cameron Kline said in a statement yesterday.

The ruling came two days after the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said it did not have enough evidence to charge Bostian and closed the case.

Philadelphia prosecutors had earlier declined to charge Bostian, citing insufficient evidence.

Neifeld on Thursday ordered that Bostian be criminally charged. Bostian's lawyer hasn't returned messages seeking comment this week. He had heard through radio traffic that a nearby commuter train had been struck by a rock.

When the train approached a curve at the Frankford Junction the speed limit dropped to 50 miles per hour - but instead of decelerating, "Bostian accelerated the train's movement to a speed of 106 miles per hour". Bostian was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash, nor was he distracted by his cellphone. The federal organization focused on a radio conversation between Bostian, a dispatcher and a SEPTA Regional Rail engineer who claimed rocks were being thrown at his auto around Frankford Junction, where Bostian's train was traveling.

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The judge ruled that charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment can be brought against Bostian, both as misdemeanors.

Bostian has not spoken publicly about the derailment in the two years since.

The Supreme Court reinstated the charges, finding that awareness of risk is a key element of the criminal charge, and that in the instance of the driver, that threshold was met because people typically are faced with warning signs, such as drowsiness, before they fall asleep.

"The private complaint mechanism exists for cases where the police can't make an arrest and, arguably, for cases where they won't but they should", said Jules Epstein, a Temple University law professor. As president judge of Municipal Court, she is responsible for judicial scheduling and supervision, and oversees the administrative operations of the civil and criminal divisions. "That's for a jury to decide in this case, as to whether or not Mr. Bostian is credible or incredible".

"If we are to let operators off the hook with the mere claim of not having memory, then it invites every single one of them to do it", Mongeluzzi said at a Thursday press conference. The automated system notifies an engineer if the train is speeding and applies the brakes automatically if the engineer does not respond. Our role as an independent, fact-based news organization has never been clearer. Some of you have even followed through with subscriptions, which is especially gratifying.

We're thankful for your support in every way.

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