Charges reinstated against engineer in Amtrak wreck

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
Amtrak 188 derailment Philadelphia

Photo credit: AP

A judge in Philadelphia on Tuesday reinstated criminal charges against the engineer in the fatal 2015 derailment of Amtrak Northeast Regional train 188 that killed eight passengers and injured more than 150.

Brandon Bostian was in court with his attorneys as Common Pleas Court Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis ordered a jury trial. A Municipal Court judge in September threw out the charges, ruling that the derailment was accidental, not criminal. The state Attorney General’s Office appealed that decision and Lewis agreed, without elaborating on her decision.

The train with 250 people aboard crashed May 12, 2015 at Frankford Curve in Port Richmond at 106 mph, more than double the speed limit. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board offered that Bostian may have become disoriented by reports of rocks being thrown at a nearby SEPTA train.

Bostian, who remains free on bail, now faces more than 200 counts of reckless endangerment, eight counts of involuntary manslaughter, and one count of causing a catastrophe.

The District Attorney’s Office in 2017 decided against charging Bostian after reviewing the evidence. Lawyers for one of the deceased passengers, Rachel Jacobs, filed a private criminal complaint against Bostian and a judge eventually sided with them, ordering the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute the case.

The office afterward recused itself, shifting prosecution to the state Attorney General’s Office, which announced a full slate of charges against Bostian, including involuntary manslaughter. But those charges were dismissed this past fall by Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gehret.

Millions of dollars in awards have already been paid out in civil lawsuits.

Bostian is scheduled to be arraigned in February. No trial date has been set.

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