Amtrak Crash Death Toll Up to Eight, All Passengers Accounted For
At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer revealed that yet another body has been pulled from the wreckage of the Amtrak train that derailed on Tuesday night, bringing the death toll to eight.
He explained that the department received a call at 8 a.m. on Thursday to bring a cadaver dog back to the wreckage. Sawyer explained that the dog “hit on a couple of spots,” and that another body was “extricated” and transported to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office.
Later in the press conference, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter stated that all passengers and crew members have now been accounted for. “With the recovery and I.D. this morning, as this news conference was taking place, I just received final confirmation,” said Nutter, adding that 43 victims remain hospitalized. “We believe that we have now accounted for all 243 individuals that we believe were on Amtrak Train 188.”
Nutter also addressed his characterization of train engineer Brandon Bostian as “reckless.”
“We have a certain way of speaking in Philadelphia,” said Nutter. “In the heat of the moment, for a guy like myself who has experienced loss in my city… I was expressive in my language… I expressed an opinion. But I don’t think I said anything that any person watching wasn’t thinking.”
Earlier in the day, the lawyer for Bostian appeared on Good Morning America on Thursday morning and said that his client, who suffered a head injury, has “absolutely no recollection” of the crash. This comes one day after it was revealed that the train was traveling at double its speed limit at the time of the derailment.
Attorney Robert Goggin appeared with George Stephanopoulos on GMA.
“I believe as a result of the concussion, he has absolutely no recollection of the events,” Goggin said during the broadcast.
So Stephanopoulos asked Goggin what his client does remember.
“He remembers coming into the curve,” replied Goggin. “He remembers attempting to reduce speed. Thereafter, he was knocked out and thrown around just like all the other passengers on that train.”
Stephanopoulos also pressed Goggin for a response to Nutter’s comment about Bostian.
“I don’t know the basis of that,” he told him. “We know the fact that the train was going at excessive speed, but the reasons why have yet to be determined.”
Bostian met with police for hours on Wednesday, and according to Goggin, the engineer “cooperated with them fully” and told them “everything that he knew.” Goggin added that police requested a search warrant for Bostian’s blood but that Bostian gave his blood voluntarily. Police sources tell Philadelphia magazine that Bostian refused to complete a formal, signed statement.
“No drinking, no drugs, and no medical conditions,” said Goggin. And as for the theory that Bostian may have been distracted by his cell phone, which police also have, Goggin insisted not. “His phone was off and in his bag,” he said, adding that his client was “distraught as he learned of the devastation.”
As of Thursday morning, NTSB investigators had yet to meet with Bostian, and an NTSB official explained on Wednesday that it is not uncommon for the NTSB wait a couple of days to sit down for interviews with vehicle operators.
More as this story develops.