May 09, 2017
The engineer of Amtrak 188 will not be charged for his role in the derailment crash of the train in Philadelphia two years ago, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.
In concluding its investigation of the accident at Frankford Junction on May 12, 2015 that killed eight people and injured 200 others, the office concluded that "the evidence indicates that the derailment was caused by the engineer operating the train far in excess of the speed limit."
But city prosecutors said they could not conclude that the evidence "rises to the high level necessary to charge the engineer or anyone else with a criminal offense."
"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," the statement continued. "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. Pennsylvania law specially states that one acts with criminal recklessness when a person 'consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk.' Based on the available information, we do not have evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the engineer 'consciously' disregarded the risk."
"We applied the law to the facts and reached this conclusion, which is specific to the criminal context. We of course offer no view on potential liability in other legal proceedings arising out of this incident."
According to the statement, two senior members of the Homicide Unit worked closely with Philadelphia police and Amtrak officials, including experienced train engineers.
"Both Assistant District Attorneys consulted with officials of the National Transportation Safety Board and thoroughly reviewed the NTSB report," the statement said. "They rode in the cab of a train along the route leading to the scene of the derailment. The team reviewed the audio tapes of what the engineer said and heard before the derailment, and reviewed the engineer's cell phone, cell phone records, and cell site data. Finally, the two senior Homicide ADAs consulted with experts in train operation."
The engineer, Brandon Bostian, 33, has sued Amtrak, alleging he sustained "serious, permanent and painful personal injuries" due to the "negligence and carelessness" of the railroad on the night of the derailment. He is seeking at least $50,000.
Bostian's attorney, Robert S. Goggin III, filed the lawsuit in January in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. The suit alleges his train "was under attack by projectiles," including one that caused him to become "disoriented" or "unconscious."