Amtrak Engineer Charged With Manslaughter for 2015 Crash


A Philadelphia judge ordered prosecutors to file criminal charges against the engineer.

Prosecutors said they can't prove engineer Brandon Bostian acted with "conscious disregard" when he accelerated the train to 106 miles per hour on a 50 miles per hour curve in Philadelphia.

Judge Marsha Neifield issued the order against Brandon Bostian on Thursday, relying on a Pennsylvania law that lets courts accept private criminal complaints if district attorneys decline to prosecute. The office sent the matter to Neifield who decided there is probable cause to file charges against Bostian.

"In my work habits", he said, "I don't really look for the speed restriction signs because a lot of times they're either missing or they're the wrong train type or they're wrong".

Pennsylvania's attorney general is doing what the Philadelphia district attorney's office said it couldn't do.

State prosecutors can choose to pursue the case - or they can fight the judge's order by appealing to Superior Court.

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Temple University professor Jules Epstein says the office could arrest engineer Brandon Bostian, seek to dismiss the case, appeal or ask the judge to reconsider her ruling. Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum possible punishment of five years in prison.

The man who was driving Amtrak train No. 188 when it flew off the rails in Philadelphia two years ago killing eight people and injuring 200 is now facing criminal charges, the Pennsylvania attorney general announced today. "And the likelihood of the AG's office taking it is very slim".

Though the National Transportation Safety Board had previously ruled that the derailment was caused by Bostian, of NY, when he lost "situational awareness" due to being distracted by the radio, the DA's office found on Tuesday that there was not enough "evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the engineer "consciously" disregarded the risk" of an imminent crash.

Federal investigators believe Bostian lost "situational awareness" but wasn't impaired or using a cellphone.

"The best we could come up with was that he was distracted from this radio conversation about the damaged train and forgot where he was", NTSB chairman Christopher Hart said at a May 2016 hearing. Amtrak has since installed an automatic braking system on its trains in its Northeast Corridor. But in a follow-up interview with NTSB investigators six months later, Bostian, who suffered a head injury during the crash, seemed to have remembered more steps he took moments before the train derailed.

"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.