Former Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian was arraigned last week on numerous charges related to the deaths and injuries of passengers aboard Amtrak 188, which derailed in Philadelphia two years ago, killing eight passengers and injuring numerous others.
Mr. Bostian, 34, was charged with eight counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of causing or risking a catastrophe, and multiple counts of reckless endangerment. He was arraigned Thursday, May 17, and released on an $81,000 bond, with his next scheduled court date set for June 7.
Mr. Bostian was operating the seven-car Amtrak commuter train on May 12, 2015, when it approached Frankford Curve, a notoriously sharp turn, going 106 mph, more than twice the speed limit. An extensive federal investigation concluded that Mr. Bostian had lost “situational awareness” because of radio reports of a rock that had been thrown at a SEPTA commuter train near Frankford Curve just before the derailment.
Alcohol, drugs, and cell phone use were found not to have been factors in the derailment.
After reviewing the evidence, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on May 9 declined to prosecute Mr. Bostian, maintaining that there was insufficient evidence to support criminal charges. However, attorneys representing the family of a Rachel Jacobs, a young mother killed in the crash, filed a criminal complaint.
The District Attorney’s Office rejected that complaint May 18, and Ms. Jacobs’ family went to court seeking an order requiring the DA to charge Mr. Bostian. “After an order was issued, the District Attorney’s Office recused itself because it had already declined to press charges and the state Attorney General’s Office stepped in,” The (Philadelphia) Inquirer reported.
According to The Inquirer, Mr. Bostian’s lawyer said “the charges were rushed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office without a proper review of the ‘mountains of evidence’ compiled by crash investigators.”
Mr. Bostian’s lawyer added that the Department of Justice and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office “reviewed the totality of evidence and had concluded that charges were not warranted.” He expressed his hope that the charges against Mr. Bostian would be dropped.