Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Train 188 derailment’

Court Rules Amtrak Engineer Can be Tried on Charges Stemming From Fatal Derailment

May 15, 2020

A Pennsylvania appeals court has ruled that an Amtrak locomotive engineer involved in a 2015 derailment that left eight dead can be tried criminally for the deaths and injuries.

Charges against Brandon Bostian had been dismissed last July but a state Superior Court Judge on Thursday ruled that that dismissal was based on fact-finding that should happen during a trial.

A Common Pleas Court judge last year ruled Bostian’s behavior before the crash did not rise to criminal recklessness.

The trial court judge had accepted a contention by the defendant’s attorney that Bostian had become confused about where he was when he accelerated the speed of his train without realizing a curve was ahead of him.

However, Superior Court Judge Victor Stabile said that contention should be evaluated in a trial, not by a judge in a pretrial hearing.

Stabile ruled that a trial court judge’s role in a pre-trial proceeding is to determine whether the state presented enough evidence to warrant a trial.

The appeals court judge ruled that prosecutors had met that burden.

An attorney for Bostian said he would appeal the ruling enabling his client to go to trial on criminal charges.

Investigators have said Northeast Regional No. 188 was traveling at 106 mph, more than twice the posted speed limit, into a curve in Port Richmond north of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

The subsequent derailment resulted in more than 150 injuries.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General has filed 216 counts of reckless endangerment, one count of causing a catastrophe, and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter against Bostian. Stabile’s ruling reinstates those charges.

The National Transportation Safety Board report on the derailment said Bostian had no alcohol or drugs in his system and was not using his cell phone at the time of the derailment.

The Amtrak engineer told NTSB investigators that he couldn’t remember why he didn’t slow the train as it approached the curve.

Charges Against Amtrak Engineer Dismissed

July 24, 2019

Criminal charges against an Amtrak engineer in connection with 2015 crash that left eight people dead have been dropped.

The charges against Brian Bostian were dismissed after Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott ruled that his behavior before the derailment did not rise to the level of criminal recklessness.

It was the second time that criminal charges against Bostian have been dropped.

The derailment occurred on May 12, 2015, when Amtrak Train 188 entered a curve near Philadelphia traveling 106 mph, which was more than twice the posted speed limit.

The derailment also left 150 people injured.

In announcing her ruling, McDermott said, “The law recognizes there is the occasional case where a departure from the rule may be appropriate.”

A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded that Bostian had lost situational awareness just before the derailment.

He had faced 216 counts of reckless endangerment, one count of causing a catastrophe, and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Christopher Phillips, a deputy attorney general with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, said his office plans to appeal the dismissal of the charges against Bostian.

Bostian was initially charged in May 2017, but those charged were thrown out that September by Judge Thomas Gehert.

Judge Kathryn S. Lewi later reinstated the charges after ruling that Judge Gehert had erred and there was sufficient evidence to go to trial.