17 May DA: No criminal charges will be filed in fatal Amtrak derailment
An Amtrak derailment in 2015 that caused the deaths of eight people and injured 200 others was determined to be caused by an engineer who was operating the train at excessive speed, but the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced this week that no criminal charges will be filed in connection to the crash.
A lengthy investigation into the crash reportedly revealed that the engineer became distracted just moments before the fatal crash which resulted in “situational awareness,” an article by Philadelphia Patch reports. Following the investigation, authorities decided not to press criminal charges.
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“We cannot conclude that the evidence rises to the high level necessary to charge the engineer or anyone else with a criminal offense,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement that was released in the article. “We have no evidence that the engineer acted with criminal ‘intent; or criminal ‘knowledge’ within the special meaning of those terms under Pennsylvania law for purposes of criminal charges. Nor do we believe there is sufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, criminal recklessness, which would be the only other basis for criminal liability.”
The engineer who was driving the train on May 12, 2015 when it derailed, Brandon Bostian, reportedly was distracted when he heard through radio communications that another SEPTA train that was nearby had been struck by debris.
“During the course of their investigation, District Attorney’s Office sent two ADA’s to ride in the cab of the train along the route of the crash, listened to audio tapes from the scene, and interviewed experts in train operation,” the article reads.
Bostian reportedly thought the train was on a different part of the track when he sped up to full throttle, according to investigators on the case. Bostian increased to 106 mph from about 65 mph within less than a minute.
Investigators also believe Bostian could have been confused due to how dark it was.
“Authorities ruled out other factors that could have made him negligent: his toxicology report came back clean, and he was not using his cell phone in the moments leading up to the crash. Because of this, the DA’s office said there is no proof he ‘consciously disregarded’ any protocol,” Patch reports.
Officials estimated that the crash caused more than $9 million in damage.