Amtrak engineer in deadly 2015 crash to appear in Pennsylvania court

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 07, 2017 6:03 AM

(Reuters) - The former Amtrak engineer charged with involuntary manslaughter in a 2015 crash that killed eight passengers and injured 200 others in Philadelphia is due in court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.

Local prosecutors had originally declined to bring charges against Brandon Bostian, saying last month that they did not have enough evidence to charge him with criminal intent and closing the case.

But a Philadelphia municipal court judge ordered that he face eight counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of causing or risking a catastrophe and numerous counts of reckless endangerment.

During the preliminary hearing, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the Philadelphia Municipal Court, prosecutors will examine the case and determine whether it should be sent for trial.

A lawyer for Bostian, 34, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The Amtrak train was traveling through Philadelphia on May 12, 2015 with 243 people on board when it took a curve at more than twice the recommended 50 miles-per-hour (80 kph) speed limit and derailed, mangling one car and knocking two others on their sides.

Bostian later told investigators he had no memory of the moments before the accident. In October, a federal judge approved a record $265 million settlement for the victims.

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

The incident could have been prevented if the track had been outfitted with a safety system known as positive train control, the agency's report concluded.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Frances Kerry)