Nearly seven years after a high-speed Amtrak train derailment killed eight people and left more than 200 injured in Philadelphia, the train’s engineer will face a jury for his role in the crash.
Brandon Bostian faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and causing a catastrophe when his trial begins Thursday. The charges against Bostian were reinstated in 2020 by Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Victor Stabile. The charges have been dropped and reinstated multiple times since the 2015 crash.
The derailment happened in May 2015, when the New York-bound train jumped the track as it rounded a curve at more than twice the 50 mph speed limit following a stop at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. Some cars overturned, others sliced through steel electrical structures and one was crushed like an aluminum can.
Four of the passengers killed were ejected from the train. In addition to the eight who died, more than 200 people were injured.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators concluded Bostian lost his bearings while distracted by radio chatter about a nearby train that had been struck by a rock. They found no evidence he was impaired or was using a cellphone.
“On May 12, 2015, criminals attacked moving passenger trains outside of 30th street station. They did so with no regard for the human lives aboard those trains. That criminal conduct created chaos on the tracks and caused this accident,” Brian McMonagle, Bostian’s lawyer, said in an emailed statement ahead of Thursday’s trial.
“Eight people lost their lives, many more were injured, and an innocent man is now being put on trial for an accident that was caused by their reckless and malicious conduct,” McMonagle said.
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Amtrak took responsibility for the crash, agreeing to pay $265 million to settle civil claims filed by victims and their families.
Since the derailment, Amtrak has installed positive-train control technology that can automatically slow or stop a speeding train on its track from Boston to Washington.