Philadelphia (AP) —Jury trials cleared Amtrak engineers on all charges resulting from derailments that killed eight people and injured hundreds in Philadelphia in 2015. It does not constitute a criminal negligence.
The jury took just over an hour to acquit 38-year-old Brandon Bostian for causing catastrophe, involuntary mansions, and reckless danger. 1 count for each injury and death. Amtrak had previously settled a civil lawsuit over the crash for $ 265 million.
Before derailing in northern Philadelphia, the train turned a curve at about 106 mph, more than double the speed limit of 50 mph.
Bostian’s lawyer described him as a lifelong train enthusiast who had a perfect record of work until he was distracted by reports of people throwing rocks in the area shortly before the crash. Given the large number of counts against him, he could be sent to jail for years, or even for a lifetime if convicted.
“It’s been seven years since I wondered if he could regain his life. Today, the jury has regained his life for him,” defendant lawyer Brian McMonagle said after the verdict. Said in. “From the beginning, we’ve said that Brandon never committed a crime here.”
In closing arguments, McMonaguru said the criminals in the case were those who threw rocks on the previous train. No one was arrested.
Federal Safety Investigator has come to a conclusion When Bossian accelerated from 65 mph to 106 mph, he lost what was called “situational awareness” on the truck, thinking he had just passed the S-curve. In fact, he was in the middle of the S-curve. Investigators found no evidence that he was disabled, tired, or using a cell phone at the time.
An important question for the jury was whether Bostian, who was not working at Amtrak, knew the risks and intentionally speeded up.
The case has a long legal history, and judges are arguing whether Bostian’s actions constitute a crime. Judge Barbara McDermott, who presided over the seven-day trial, questioned whether the evidence was sufficient, but said he would consider the matter after being judged by a jury trial. The point now seems controversial.
Prosecutors say Bostian acted recklessly ignoring the safety of his passengers traveling from Washington to New York on Tuesday night. The train stopped at Philadelphia’s 30th Avenue station about 10 minutes ago and was heading north.
A witness to a trial, former New York firefighter Charles Gildersleeve, told a jury that he spent two days looking for his brother in the hospital after the crash, but learned he had died. Robert Guildersleeve was heading to New York for a work meeting after attending his son’s lacrosse practice that night.
Another witness, Blair Berman, said he bumped into Bostian in the wreckage and asked him to borrow his phone. He didn’t tell her he was driving her train. She asked him where they were, and Bostian told her exactly that they were in an area called Franklin Junction.
The prosecutor used this point to claim that he knew where he was when Bossian crashed and should have known the speed limit.
Tom Klein, a lawyer representing both witnesses, along with the other Amtrak 188 families, said the ruling did not deny the “public accountability” brought about by the trial. The victim finally heard a Bossian lawyer admit that the engineer had made a mistake, he said.
“It brings some closure to the eight families who lost their loved ones and many others who were devastated by Mr. Bostian’s actions that day,” Klein said.
The Philadelphia Supreme Prosecutor refused to pursue criminal charges, which was later taken over by the Attorney General’s office.
“There is no doubt that overspeeding the trains driven by the defendants led to the death and injury of passengers,” the Attorney General’s office said in a statement.
With the crash, Congress raised the previous $ 200 million limit on the settlement of Amtrak’s individual crashes to $ 295 million.
The jury began weighing the charges on Friday morning when one jury died in the family and another jury had to intervene. After that, the jury started the deliberation from the beginning.
Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.