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Judge Clears Engineer of all Criminal Charges Stemming from Philadelphia Derailment that Killed Eight and Injured Hundreds

On September 12th, Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gehret dismissed the criminal charges brought against Brian Bostian in regards to the 2015 Philadelphia train derailment. Bostian, 34, was the engineer of the Philadelphia train that derailed and as a result the Amtrak train killed eight individuals while also injuring more than 200.

In 2015, the derailment took place just outside of Philadelphia. Bostian was the engineer, on the date of the accident, when the train approached a curve with a 50-mph speed limit. The train was traveling over double the speed limit, at 105-mph, at the time of the derailment. As a result, Bostian was charged with eight counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of causing or risking a catastrophe, and 238 counts of reckless endangerment.

Ultimately, Judge Gehret determined that there was not enough evidence to proceed to a criminal trial. According to the court reports, Judge Gehret said that based on the evidence, “I think it’s more likely than not this was an accident and not criminal.”

The National Transportation Safety Board already investigated this accident. The NTSB concluded during their federal investigation that Bostian was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, rather that he lost “situational awareness” based off the radio talking that was in the background because of a nearby SEPTA train being hit by rock and as a result may have been confused as to where he was located. Bostian has been on unpaid administrative leave from his position of an Amtrak engineer since the derailment took place.

The prosecution, led by Deputy Attorney General Christopher Phillips, attempted to argued that on the date in question Bostian had acted with “gross negligence.” Furthermore, their argument weighed heavily on the fact that it was the responsibility of Bostian to abided by the speed limits to ensure the safety of the passengers and when the train approached the curve at over twice the speed limit that responsibility was failed.

An Amtrak senior director explained the training that Bostian underwent before becoming a train engineer. Ultimately, the training included eight weeks of classroom as well as simulator work. He also explained that Bostian underwent on-the-job training that required him to memorize his route and be familiar with its speed restrictions. Also, Amtrak police detectives testified that Bostian had properly and safely operated numerous trains thorough the same curve where the derailment occurred 25 times in the six weeks prior to this 2015 accident.

A statement released by the Pennsylvania Attorney General explained that his office will be carefully reviewing “the judge’s decision, notes of testimony and our prosecutorial responsibilities in this case going forward.”

 

 

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