Charges Dropped, Again, Against Amtrak Engineer in Deadly Philadelphia Crash

Eight people died when the Washington-to-New York train rounded a curve at more than twice the 50 mph speed limit and hurdled off the tracks in Philadelphia in May 2015

Involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges have once again been dropped against the Amtrak engineer at the controls during a deadly 2015 derailment in Philadelphia.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, which has been handling the case against Amtrak 188 engineer Brandon Bostian, and his attorney confirmed the charges were dropped Tuesday.

"The law recognizes we're all human," Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott said in tossing the involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Bostian’s attorney Brian McMonagle said his client and family are “greatly relieved” that the judge agreed with the defense's oral argument for dismissal.

Philadelphia-based McMonagle argued that what happened on May 12, 2015, was accidental, not criminal.

“This was an accident, this was a terrible accident, but it was just an accident,” McMonagle told NBC10. “There was no crime here and this should all end.". 

Judges had previously thrown out, then reinstated the charges against Bostian.

The state attorney general's office, which has pursued the case after the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office chose not to, will appeal, spokeswoman Jacklin Rhoades said.

Eight people were killed and about 200 injured when the Washington-to-New York train derailed as it rounded a curve at more than twice the 50 mph speed limit. 

Federal safety investigators concluded Bostian was distracted by radio chatter and lost his bearings.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation completed in 2016 found no evidence that Bostian was impaired or using a cellphone.

Bostian will remain free on unsecured bond for 30 days to give prosecutors time to file an appeal, McMonagle said.

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

"It's a very big disappointment to the families who have been waiting for some measure of public accountability and justice," attorney Thomas Kline, who represents two of the families, said of the latest ruling. "We are hopeful that that day will come after appellate review and hopeful for a reversal of today's decision."

Since the Amtrak 188 derailment, the railroad has installed positive-train control technology that can automatically slow or stop a speeding train on its track from Boston to Washington.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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