Philly Judge Throws Out Criminal Case Against Amtrak Engineer

Left: Brandon Bostian (Courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi); Right: The aftermath of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment (AP/Mel Evans)

A Philadelphia Municipal Court judge on Tuesday formally dismissed criminal charges pending against Brandon Bostian, the 34-year-old train engineer who was driving when Amtrak Train 188 derailed on tracks in Port Richmond on May 12, 2015, AP’s Mike Sisak reports. Read more »

Judge Orders Prosecutors to Charge Driver in Amtrak Derailment

Left: Brandon Bostian (Courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi); Right: The aftermath of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment (AP/Mel Evans)

A Philadelphia judge has ordered prosecutors to file charges against the driver in the 2015 Amtrak derailment – just days after the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said it would not do so.

Municipal Court Judge Marsha Neifield has asked the DA’s Office to charge Brandon Bostian with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment. A two-year investigation by the DA’s office found that Bostian’s speeding caused the train to derail, killing eight people and injuring more than 200 others. Read more »

DA’s Office Won’t Charge Driver in Amtrak Derailment

Left: Brandon Bostian (Courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi); Right: The aftermath of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment (AP/Mel Evans)

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will not charge Brandon Bostian, the engineer who was driving Amtrak Train 188 when it derailed in 2015, killing eight people and injuring more than 200 others.

Following a nearly two-year investigation, the DA’s office said no criminal charges would be filed in the Amtrak derailment. Read more »

Deadline Nears for Endangerment Charges to Be Filed Against Amtrak Engineer

Left: Brandon Bostian (Courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi); Right: The aftermath of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment (AP/Mel Evans)

Left: Brandon Bostian (Courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi); Right: The aftermath of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment (AP/Mel Evans)

It’s been almost two years since Amtrak train 188 derailed, killing eight and injuring more than 200.

Just before the crash, Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian had accelerated the vehicle to 106 mph – more than double the speed limit at the Frankford Junction curve, where the train crashed. A yearlong investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board determined that Bostian was likely distracted immediately before the derailment.

Bostian has so far faced no charges in the crash, and if the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office doesn’t file charges against him by this Friday, it’s unlikely that he’ll be held criminally accountable.  Read more »

Amtrak 188 Survivor Finally Meets His “Guardian Angels”

Robert Hewett (center) finally met the first responders who saved him from the 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia. (Courtesy Robert Mongeluzzi)

Robert Hewett (center) finally met the first responders who saved him from the 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia. (Photo courtesy of Robert Mongeluzzi)

Bob Hewett had a small request when the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic Amtrak crash rolled around earlier this month: He wanted to meet the men who saved his life.

Hewett, 58, was riding in the first car of Amtrak Train 188 when it derailed in Frankford last May. He suffered a litany of gruesome injuries — broken ribs, collapsed lung, a tear in his diaphragm — and spent seven weeks in a medically induced coma.

He still clearly remembers the first responders who pulled him from the wreckage, and the horror of hearing one say to his colleagues, “This guy’s got to go now, the whole back of his head’s coming off.’” Hewett recently told reporters that he just wanted to thank them, plain and simple.

Read more »

First Car Passenger Robert Hewett Recounts Surviving Crash of Amtrak 188

Amtrak 188 survivor Bob Hewett. Photo | Mariam Dembele

Amtrak 188 survivor Bob Hewett. Photo | Mariam Dembele

The Amtrak 188 train derailment happened one year ago today. Survivor Robert Hewett has relived it every day since.

“Every breath I take, I think about it, I have a lot of terrible sleeping at night, if it’s not various pain, it’s my mind just replaying the crash,” said Hewett, 58, a security official for BASF, at a press conference held at the law firm representing him on the anniversary of the Amtrak 188 train derailment that killed eight people and injured more than 200. Read more »

How Frankford Remembers Amtrak 188

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Illustration by Gluekit; hands: iStockphoto; train tracks: Bradley Maule; clown house: Liz Spikol

Christine Jerger’s plan to go for a quiet nighttime bike ride was interrupted by what seemed like the end of the world.

A flash of light pierced the sky, the ground shook, and a low, guttural rumble echoed through her corner of Frankford. It was 9:21 p.m. on May 12, 2015. Amtrak Train 188 had just derailed near a collection of graffiti-drenched brick warehouses that butt up against a desolate-looking stretch of Coral Street, not far from Jerger’s home on Buckius Street.

after the jump »

NTSB: A Simple Signal Change Could Have Prevented Amtrak 188 Crash

A “caution” signal would have kept Amtrak 188 from jumping the tracks on the curve at Frankford Junction. But Amtrak only gave that signal to southbound trains, not eastbound ones.

A “caution” signal would have kept Amtrak 188 from jumping the tracks on the curve at Frankford Junction. But Amtrak only gave that signal to southbound trains, not eastbound ones.

Railroad engineers on Amtrak have three things that determine how fast their trains can go. One is the speed governor on the locomotive, which determines the train’s absolute maximum speed. Another is the train timetable, which lists the normal speeds along the route. The third is the in-cab signals, which can force trains to slow down if they are approaching a speed-restricted section of track. This last item is known as “automatic train control.”

Trains approaching the 50-mph curve at Frankford Junction from the north are forced to slow down to 45 mph by a restrictive cab signal far enough away to bring the train down to that speed by the time it hits the curve. Prior to the crash of Amtrak train 188, trains approaching the curve from the west were not. Read more »

What We Know About the Amtrak 188 Crash, Based on the Interviews

Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. |Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. |Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

“‘I don’t know if someone is shooting at us or throwing rocks, but I see it.’ After that, the horn started to go.”

That’s how assistant conductor Akida Henry first described the radio transmission she heard between Brandon Bostian, the engineer on Amtrak train 188, and the control center in Wilmington, Del., just seconds before the train derailed on a sharp curve with a posted top speed of 50 mph. Data from the locomotive event recorder at that time shows the train was traveling at 106 mph at 9:20:31 p.m., followed four seconds later by an engineer initiated emergency — that is, an application of the emergency brakes — then, three seconds after that, by the end of the recorder data. At that point, the train was doing 102 mph.

Interviews with both assistant conductor Henry and dispatcher Joseph Curran, who was responsible that night for controlling movements in the stretch of track that runs through North Philadelphia, indicate that trains running through the area of the accident were being damaged by projectiles of some sort. The interviews are part of a big information release today from the NTSB. Read more »

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