Forest Hills Amtrak engineer will not be charged in derailment: DA

Forest Hills Amtrak engineer will not be charged in derailment: DA
By Mark Hallum

The Philadelphia district attorney will not be pressing criminal charges against the Amtrak engineer from Forest Hills who was at the helm at the time of a deadly derailment.

Brandon Bostian, 34, was the engineer of Northeast Regional Train 188 in the May 2015 wreck. Despite a 50-mile-per-hour limit, he was at the controls when the train sped around a curve at 108 mph.

Bostian was a Forest Hills resident at the time of the disaster. Eight passengers were killed, including two from Queens, and more than 180 others were sent to nearby hospitals, some in critical condition.

“However, we cannot conclude that the evidence rises to the high level necessary to charge the engineer, or anyone else, with a criminal offense,” Philadelphia DA’s office said in a statement. “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. 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.”

The DA’s office said Pennsylvania state law defines criminal recklessness as when a person “consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk” and the engineer’s actions did not fit that description.

The DA said two senior members of the Homicide Unit cooperated with Philadelphia Police and Amtrak officials, along with experienced train engineers. A review of audio tapes detailing what the engineer had said and heard before the derailment was studied. They also completed a search of the engineer’s cell phone, cell phone records, and cell site data.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.