Amtrak train driver found not guilty over deadly 2015 derailment

Amtrak train driver found not guilty over deadly 2015 derailment
Brandon Bostian has been acquitted of all charges, including involuntary manslaughter and 238 counts of reckless endangerment

An Amtrak engineer accused over a deadly train crash has been found not guilty.

Brandon Bostian was the man operating the Amtrak Northeast Regional train that derailed in Philadelphia in 2015. He had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, 238 counts of reckless endangerment, and causing a catastrophe. On Friday, a jury acquitted him on all charges.

“Today the jury gave him his life back,” Mr Bostian’s lawyer, Brian McMonagle, told KFYR. “We’ve been saying from the beginning there was never a crime committed here by Brandon.”

On 12 May, 2015, Mr Bostian’s train was traveling from Washington DC to New York City. As it approached a curve with a 50 miles-per-hour speed limit, the train suddenly sped up to 106 miles per hour and flew off the tracks, careening into Port Richmond, Philadelphia.

The crash killed eight people and injured more than 200 others.

In court, Mr Bostian’s lawyers argued that the speed-up was an honest mistake, caused by the distraction of “criminals” throwing rocks at trains in the area.

“Brandon made a mistake because of the distraction, and that’s not a crime,” Mr McMonagle told The New York Times. “I explained to the jury that good people make honest mistakes every day, and it’s not criminal conduct.”

Tom Kline, the lawyer for some of the victims’ families, said it was helpful that Mr Bostian’s lawyers at least acknowledged that he made a mistake.

“That provides some measure of closure to the eight families who lost loved ones, and the scores of others who were catastrophically injured by Mr Bostian’s conduct that day,” Mr Kline told KFYR.

However, Mr Kline still believes Mr Bostian is responsible for the crash – a sentiment echoed by Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro.

“There is no question that the excessive speed of the train that the defendant operated resulted in death and injury to his passengers,” Mr Shapiro said in a statement. “Our goal throughout this long legal process was to seek justice for each and every victim, and help bring victims’ families and their loved ones closure.”

If he’d been convicted, Mr Bostian could have faced life in prison.