NTSB: Amtrak Train Sped Up Before Hitting Derailing Curve

Matt Vespa
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Posted: May 14, 2015 9:27 PM
NTSB: Amtrak Train Sped Up Before Hitting Derailing Curve

As Dan reported earlier, all 243 passengers on Amtrak Train 188 have been accounted for, including the eight people who lost their lives when the locomotive derailed after hitting a curve at 106 miles per hour, twice the speed limit. Besides the eight fatalities, more than 200 were sent to the hospital. The engineer on the train has been identified as Brandon Bostian, and he’s agreed to an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) (via CNN):

Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian has agreed to be interviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board, and board member Robert Sumwalt is hopeful that Bostian will be able to help answer some key questions. The 32-year-old engineer, who was injured, will be permitted to bring his lawyer.

"What I believe is a very good way to interview people is, honestly, to not ask them questions, to basically give them a figurative blank sheet of paper and ask them what they recall," Sumwalt said Thursday. "Really, we want to know his account of what he recalls leading into this tragic accident."

Investigators are looking at a "good quality video" that shows the train speeding up in the moments leading up to its derailment. They don't know yet what caused the train to accelerate to more than 100 mph. Sumwalt said 65 seconds before the end of the recording, the train speed went above 70 mph, and then steadily increased.

"It just shows the speed alone," Sumwalt said. "It doesn't tell how the speed got there."

Bostian's lawyer told ABC's "Good Morning America" his client "has absolutely no recollection whatsoever" after losing consciousness in Tuesday night's crash.

"He remembers coming into the curve (and) attempting to reduce speed," attorney Robert Goggin said. "... The last thing he recalls is coming to, looking for his bag, getting his cell phone, turning it on and calling 911."

The engineer can't recall engaging the emergency brake, even though Sumwalt has said he did so "just moments" before the train derailed. Goggin thinks his client's memories may return as he recovers from a concussion. Bostian has 15 staples in his head, stitches in one leg and his other leg immobilized, according to his lawyer.

Goggin insisted his client hadn't been talking or texting on his phone before he made the 911 call. Nor did he have other notable accidents or mishaps. And his lawyer said Bostian voluntarily took a blood test and there was "no drinking, no drugs, no medical conditions. Nothing."

My colleague Christine first reported on the derailment on Tuesday.