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Amtrak Engineer Charged In Deadly 2015 Philadelphia Train Crash

14 May 2017

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro expanded on charges a Philadelphia judge approved a day earlier after the family of a woman killed in the crash sought a private criminal complaint.

In addition to eight counts of involuntary manslaughter, former Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian was charged with one count of causing or risking a catastrophe and numerous counts of reckless endangerment, according to Shapiro's statement.

The DA's office said it referred prosecution of the involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges to the state attorney general to avoid any possible conflict of interest.

Federal investigators have determined the May 2015 derailment occurred after its engineer became distracted, lost situational awareness and accelerated the train to 106 miles per hour on a curve that has a 50 miles per hour speed limit.

Neifeld on Thursday ordered that Bostian be criminally charged.

The district attorney's office there said that while the evidence suggested the derailment was caused by excessive speed, it found no evidence of criminal intent.

WASHINGTON, May 13 ― Criminal charges were filed yesterday against a United States passenger train driver for the 2015 derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured more than 200.

"This would not have happened had a courageous family, the Jacobs family, not stood up against the decision of a local prosecutor not to press charges", said lawyer Thomas R. Kline, who had sought the private complaint on the family's behalf.

The judge's unusual order came just hours before the two-year deadline Friday to file charges in the May 12, 2015 crash.

The National Transportation Board determined that the derailment was caused by human error and that Bostian was distracted and had lost situational awareness.

Kline and attorney Robert Mongeluzzi represent 32 victims in ongoing litigation against Amtrak, which has declined to comment to CNN.

The Amtrak passenger train was traveling from Washington to New York City when seven of its cars and its engine jumped the rails. He had heard through radio traffic that a nearby commuter train had been struck by a rock. The automated system notifies an engineer if the train is speeding and applies the brakes automatically if the engineer does not respond. But in a follow-up interview with NTSB investigators six months later, Bostian, who suffered a head injury during the crash, seemed to have remembered more steps he took moments before the train derailed.

Jacobs, a technology executive, was a 39-year-old wife and mother.

Bostian suffered a blow to the head in the crash, which his lawyer said affected his memory of the event.

Amtrak has taken responsibility for the crash and agreed to pay $265 million to settle claims filed by victims and their families.