Charges against Amtrak 188 engineer again dropped

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A National Transportation Safety Board investigator observes activity at the site of the Amtrak train No. 188 crash in 2015.
National Transportation Safety Board

PHILADELPHIA — For a second time, criminal charges have been dropped against the engineer of an Amtrak train involved in a fatal derailment in Philadelphia in 2015.

Charges against Brian Bostian, 36, were dropped after Court of Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott ruled that the engineer’s actions did not rise to the level of criminal recklessness, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “The law recognizes we’re all human,” McDermott said, according to the newspaper. “The law recognizes there is the occasional case where a departure from the rule may be appropriate.”

Eight people were killed and more than 150 injured on May 12, 2015, when Amtrak train No. 188 reached 106 mph, more than twice the posted speed limit, before entering a curve. [See “NTSB: Amtrak 188’s engineer lost ‘situational awareness,’ Trains News Wire, May 17, 2016.] Bostian was facing 216 counts of reckless endangerment, one count of causing a catastrophe, and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Christopher Phillips, a deputy attorney general with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, indicated the office would appeal the decision.

Responding to a judge’s order, the attorney general’s office first charged Bostian in May 2017 — days after saying it would not do so. [See “Pennsylvania judge orders charges leveled at Amtrak 188 engineer,” Trains News Wire, May 12, 2017.} Those charges were dropped in September 2017 by Judge Thomas Gehret [see “Judge dismisses criminal charges in 188 crash,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 12, 2017]. But charges were reinstated several months later by Judge Kathryn S. Lewis, who ruled the previous judge had erred and there was sufficient evidence to go to trial. [See “Charges reinstated against engineer in Amtrak 188 crash,” Trains News Wire, Feb. 6, 2018.]

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