© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Amtrak Engineer Charged In Deadly 2015 Philadelphia Train Crash

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia in 2015. The engineer has been charged with crimes including involuntary manslaughter.
Patrick Semansky
/
AP
Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia in 2015. The engineer has been charged with crimes including involuntary manslaughter.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has brought criminal charges against the engineer who was operating Amtrak 188 when it derailed, killing eight people and injuring over 200 two years ago.

Brandon Bostian faces eight counts of involuntary manslaughter and other crimes including causing a catastrophe and reckless endangerment. Federal investigators determined that Bostian allowed the train to speed up to 106 mph in a curve suitable for only half of that speed.

The National Transportation Board determined that the derailment was caused by human error and that Bostian was distracted and had lost situational awareness.

The charges come after a dramatic turn of legal events. Earlier this week, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced that he would not press charges against Bostian because there was no evidence of criminal intent or responsibility.

But Philadelphia Municipal Court President Judge Marsha Neifield ordered the district attorney to charge Bostian at the urging of attorneys representing dozens of the victims. The DA's office issued a statement saying since it had already decided not to charge Bostian it wanted to avoid "any apparent conflict of interest." So the DA referred the case to the state attorney general who filed charges.

Amtrak 188, originating in Washington, D.C., was bound for New York. Bostian was an experienced engineer. The investigation found no evidence that alcohol or drugs were involved. The engineer told investigators that he recalled very little about the crash.

The charges against him were filed just a few hours before the statute of limitations was set to expire.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.