The Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday was traveling at 106 mph – more than twice the speed limit – when it tumbled from a curve of track, killing eight people and injuring more than 200, federal investigators said.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are focusing their investigation of the derailment on Brandon Bostian, the 32-year-old engineer who was driving the Northeast Regional Amtrak train No. 188 when it crashed, using data from the train’s “black box” recorder to piece together what went wrong.
A lawyer representing Mr. Bostian told ABC News that his client “has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual” in the moments preceding the crash. “The next thing he recalls is being thrown around, coming to, finding his cellphone and dialing 911.”
The Amtrak train was traveling its regular route from Washington D.C. to New York City when it entered a curve of track in the north Philadelphia area going excessively fast. Mr. Bostian attempted to slow the train down, but his reaction was too late to prevent the crash. All seven of the train cars derailed, injuring nearly all of the 238 passengers and five crew members aboard the train at the time.
On Thursday, rescuers using a cadaver-sniffing dog located an eighth body in the wreckage of the first train car.
Mr. Bostian, who has worked for Amtrak since 2006, first as a conductor and then as an engineer, was among those injured. He suffered from a head wound that required 14 stitches and a gash in his leg that was stapled shut.
“We certainly want to be able to interview him as soon as he’s available and ready — I mean mentally and physically,” said Robert L. Sumwalt, the NTSB board member overseeing the investigation. “You can imagine if you’d been injured pretty badly in an accident, you may not have all of your faculties available. We want to make sure when we do talk to him, that’s he’s able to give us an accurate account of what he does remember.”
Mr. Bostian’s lawyers said his client had not taken drugs or alcohol before the crash. “I asked him if he had any medical issues,” his lawyer told ABC News. “He said he had none. He’s on no medications; he has no health issues to speak of and just has no explanation.”