Judge Dismisses Case Against Amtrak Engineer in Fatal Crash

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The prosecution against engineer Brandon Bostian, who derailed an Amtrak train two years ago in Philadelphia, ended in stunning fashion when a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to warrant a criminal trial, reports Philly.com. Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gehret dismissed all counts after a hearing that centered on what responsibility the engineer should bear for eight deaths and more than 100 injuries caused by the May 12, 2015, accident. “Based on that evidence,” Gehret said, “I think it’s more likely than not this was an accident and not criminal.” Bostian had been charged with eight counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of causing or risking a catastrophe, and 238 counts of reckless endangerment.

Bostian’s attorney, Brian McMonagle, argued that he had committed a mistake, not a crime. “It’s a horrible tragedy, but the law recognizes there’s a big difference between an accident and a crime,” McMonagle said. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office declined to say whether it would seek other ways to charge Bostian. State prosecutors brought a manslaughter case against Bostian after the Philadelphia District Attorney declined to press charges just days before a statute of limitations expired on the reckless endangerment charge. Bostian drove the seven-car train that had accelerated to 106 mph — more than twice the speed posted — as it approached a curve, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The federal investigation concluded that Bostian had no alcohol or drugs in his system and was not using his cellphone at the time of the derailment. Bostian told the NTSB he did not remember what had happened. The federal agency concluded that he lost “situational awareness,” probably because of radio chatter about a rock hitting a local train near the curve shortly before the derailment.

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