Judge Reinstates Manslaughter Charges Against Brandon Bostian, Amtrak Engineer in Deadly 2015 Crash

Engineer Brandon Bostian has had criminal charges reinstated against him in the deadly 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia. The charges had been dismissed in 2017.

A judge in Philadelphia has reinstated criminal charges against Brandon Bostian, 34, the engineer of an Amtrak train that was going twice the posted speed limit when it derailed in 2015. Eight passengers were killed and 200 others were injured.

Last year, a judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges against Bosnian, saying there was insufficient evidence to support negligence.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro appealed that decision in October 2017.

On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, Judge Kathryn Lewis overturned the lower court’s decision and reinstated charges of eight counts of involuntary manslaughter and 246 counts of reckless endangerment against Bostian.

Judge Lewis said that evidence at the hearing, including testimony from an injured passenger and details about the destroyed rail cars and strewn body parts, should have been enough to warrant a trial.

“The victims are going to have their day in court, which is all they have ever sought,” said Thomas R. Kline, the lawyer who represents John Jacobs, the father of Rachel Jacobs, who died in the crash. He kept the case alive by filing a private criminal complaint after city prosecutors decided not to bring charges.

Kline added, “This has been a long road from the denial by the local county prosecutor through two judges to the trial level court where a ruling today assured that Brandon Bostian will stand trial.”

On May 12, 2015, Amtrak 188 left Washington, D.C. for New York City. It flew off the tracks just north of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. Investigators from the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) said the train was traveling 103 miles per hour, more than twice the posted speed of 50 miles per hour, when it hit a curve. The engine and all seven cars derailed.

Amtrak Derailment 2015

Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt3raNntg30

Amtrak has since paid out $265.0 million to resolve claims filed by victims and their families.

Investigators said there was no evidence of drug use, drinking, or cell phone use. It is thought that Bostian may have lost track of where he was and thought he was entering a different curve where the speed limit was 110 miles per hour.

Brian McMonagle, the attorney representing Bostian, has argued that speeding was a minor lapse in the engineer’s otherwise spotless work record.

Bostian, for his part, is suing Amtrak, saying he was left disoriented and unconscious when Amtrak 188 was struck by something before derailing.

When interviewed by the NTSB, the train getting hit by projectiles was one of the few details Bostian remembers clearly about that fateful day.

The NTSB meanwhile said that nothing stuck the train.

The section of the track where the derailment occurred did not have safety equipment called “automatic train control.” The automated system alerts an engineer if a train is speeding and applies the brakes automatically if the engineer doesn’t.

The NTSB has said that if the equipment had been installed, the accident would not have happened.

Since the derailment and death of eight people, Amtrak has installed the speed control equipment along that particular section of track.