Prosecutors can try to reinstate charges in '15 Amtrak wreck

AP News
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Posted: Dec 20, 2017 12:46 PM
Prosecutors can try to reinstate charges in '15 Amtrak wreck

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The fight to reinstate criminal charges against the engineer in a deadly 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia will carry over into next year.

A judge on Wednesday told prosecutors she will review Brandon Bostian's case, and she set a hearing for February where prosecutors may have the chance to argue that the engineer should be held criminally accountable for the derailment.

A different judge in September threw out involuntary manslaughter and other charges after finding evidence pointed to an accident.

Eight people died and more than 200 people were injured when the train rounded a curve at more than twice the speed limit and derailed.

Like in the fatal crash involving a speeding Amtrak train this week in Washington state, the track where the Philadelphia crash occurred did not have the technology that can automatically slow or stop a speeding train.

Federal safety investigators determined that Bostian lost track of where he was on the route after hearing on the radio that a commuter train had been struck with a rock. Thinking he was on a long straightaway, Bostian accelerated the train, they concluded. The train was actually approaching a sharp curve.

Bostian has been on unpaid administrative leave from Amtrak since the crash and is suing the government-owned railroad, alleging he was left disoriented or unconscious when something struck his train before it derailed. Federal investigators believe nothing struck Bostian's locomotive.

Amtrak has taken responsibility for the crash and agreed to pay $265 million to settle claims filed by victims and their families. It has also installed speed controls on all its track from Boston to Washington.

Bostian exited the Philadelphia courthouse surrounded by a group of people who put themselves between the engineer and news photographers. His lawyer said after the hearing that Bostian wants to put the case behind him.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office said he is pleased with the court's decision, calling it an "important step forward in the legal process of this case."