Engineer in deadly Philadelphia Amtrak crash could still be charged

Reuters News
Posted: May 12, 2017 12:02 PM

(Reuters) - The engineer in a deadly 2015 Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia could be charged by the Pennsylvania attorney general as soon as Friday even though local prosecutors had cleared him of criminal wrongdoing earlier in the week.

A Philadelphia municipal court judge ordered the charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment against former Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian to be revived on Thursday.

The ruling came two days after the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said it did not have enough evidence to charge Bostian and closed the case.

The district attorney's office said evidence indicated the derailment was caused by the engineer operating the train far in excess of the speed limit, but it found no evidence that he acted with criminal intent.

To avoid a conflict of interest, prosecutors referred the case against Bostian to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro's office.

“We’ve received the referral from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and are carefully reviewing this important matter,” Joe Grace, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said on Friday.

Under state law, Friday marks the two-year deadline to charge Bostian in the May 12, 2015, crash that killed eight people and injured more than 180.

In May 2016, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report that Bostian was probably distracted by radio traffic when the crash occurred.

A federal judge in October approved a record $265 million settlement for the accident victims. A lawyer for Bostian did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)