Robert Goggin, attorney for Amtrak 188 engineer Brandon Bostian appeared on ABC’s Nightline on Wednesday saying he remembers driving the train, going to the area generally but has no recollection of the accident or anything suspicious. Bostian was released from the hospital Wednesday after consenting to a blood sample and turning over his cell phone. Local police confirm that he was interviewed in regards to the accident.
The train was traveling over 100 mph before the crash, which the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed on Wednesday. The crash, the deadliest U.S. train accident in nearly seven years, killed seven people and injured more than 200. The NTSB reported that the emergency brakes slowed the train down to 102 mph prior to the accident. Amtrak executives reported that the safety mechanism called the positive train control, which is designed to prevent collisions of two trains, human errors, and derailments caused by excessive speed, was not in operation along the track in question. The mechanism is considered by Amtrak is the most important rail safety advancement in our time. All American commuter lines are mandated by the end of year to install PTC.
During ABC’s interview, Goggin says Bostian remembers heading into the curve, attempting to reduce speed and was later knocked out. Bostian, he said, “has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual” and “no explanation” for the crash. He only recalls getting thrown around, coming to, finding his bag and his cellphone, and dialing 911, Goggin said. Gogg says his client was very distraught to learn of the seven who died in the accident.
NTSB member Robert Sumwalt, reported that the entire train derailed immediately. There were 243 passengers on board. According to his LinkedIn profile, Bostian has worked at Amtrak since 2006, first as a passenger conductor for four years and an engineer for almost five years. Philadelphia’s mayor Michael Nutter has immediately placed the blame on Bostian. On CNN, he said, “Clearly it was reckless in terms of the driving by the engineer. There’s no way in the world he should have been going that fast into the curve,” “I don’t know what was going on with him (the engineer). I don’t know what was going on in the cab, but there’s really no excuse that can be offered, literally, unless he had a heart attack.”
The cause of the derailment has not been determined yet but has stirred up conversations about the aging rail infrastructure across the country. Transportation analyst Matthew L. Wald said the area where the train derailed has had problems in the past. “It’s an extremely heavily used stretch of track,” he said. “They have trouble keeping it in a state of good repair.”