Speeding Amtrak engineer charged in 2015 crash that killed 8

Violet Tucker
May 13, 2017

Just two days after city prosecutors announced they would not press charges against the Amtrak driver whose train derailed in 2015, a Philadelphia judge issued an order for the conductor's arrest on involuntary-manslaughter and reckless-endangerment counts.

A local judge on Thursday called on prosecutors to criminally charge Brandon Bostian with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment - almost two years to the day of the tragedy.

A Philadelphia judge has ruled that there is "probable cause" to charge Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian in the deadly 2015 train derailment.

Philadelphia prosecutors released a statement Thursday indicating that they will refer Bostian's prosecution to the state's attorney general to avoid a conflict of interest.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams previously declined to file charges against the engineer. On Tuesday, the District Attorney's Office said there was insufficient evidence to bring charges. When the direct result of reckless or negligent behavior, involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by two-and-a-half to five years in prison per charge.

Private criminal complaints are occasionally used in low-level crimes not witnessed by police or, sometimes, when charges are not filed for political reasons, experts said.

Neifeld on Thursday ordered that Bostian be criminally charged. Attorney General Josh Shapiro's office said it's reviewing the matter.

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"This would not have happened had a courageous family, the Jacobs family, not stood up against the decision of a local prosecutor not to press charges", Thomas R. Kline, an attorney for the Jacobs family, told the Associated Press.

Shapiro expanded on charges a Philadelphia judge approved one day earlier.

Investigators found no evidence that Bostian had been on his phone at the time of the crash, or that a bullet had been fired as first reported. Bostian likely was distracted by reports that someone had thrown rocks at a nearby SEPTA train and became disoriented about where he was, the NTSB said.

Federal investigators looking into the crash said the train was speeding at 106 miles per hour before it derailed along a curve meant to be traveled at 50 miles per hour.

The family of a NY woman who was killed sought the criminal complaint after city prosecutors declined to press charges.

Of the 238 passengers, eight were killed - Laura Finamore, James Gaines, Abid Gilani, Robert Gildersleeve, Derrick Griffith, Rachel Jacobs, Giuseppe Piras and Justin Zemser. Called Positive Train Control, the system will automatically slow a train that is speeding.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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