Pennsylvania AG charges Amtrak engineer in fatal crash

Judge finds probable cause to charge Amtrak engineer in derailment

LinkedIn via CNN Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian

The attorney's general office did not say when Bostian will be arraigned. Per Pennsylvania law, involuntary manslaughter when it was a direct result of reckless or negligent behavior is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by two-and-a-half to five years in prison per charge. The federal organization focused on a radio conversation between Bostian, a dispatcher and a SEPTA Regional Rail engineer who claimed rocks were being thrown at his auto around Frankford Junction, where Bostian's train was traveling.

Federal investigators concluded Bostian lost track of his location before the 2015 crash after learning a nearby commuter train had been struck with a rock.

"This was something that never had to happen", survivor Robert Hewitt, of Nutley, New Jersey, told the Associated Press on the 1st anniversary of the crash a year ago.

A Philadelphia judge has ruled that there is "probable cause" to charge Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian in the deadly 2015 train derailment.

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Bostian, 34, was engineering the New York-bound Amtrak Train No. 188 on May 12, 2015 when he accelerated while approaching a curve at Frankford Junction in the Port Richmond neighborhood. The Attorney General's office became involved after a Philadelphia Municipal Court judge reversed a decision by the DA's denying a private criminal complaint against Bostian filed by the father and husband of Rachel Jacobs, one of the eight passengers killed in the derailment.

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

The family of a NY woman who was killed sought the criminal complaint after city prosecutors declined to press charges.

The district attorney's office could appeal after it said it's reviewing Neifeld's order.

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Amtrak agreed to a $265 million settlement with the injured and families of those killed. A Naval Academy midshipman and a man from Howard County were among the dead. Two children died in the ensuing crash.

Bostian, in a lawsuit against Amtrak, said he was left disoriented or unconscious when something struck his train before it derailed. The company has since installed positive train control systems in its trains, which automatically slow a speeding train.

"We have no evidence that the engineer acted with criminal "intent" or criminal "knowledge" within the special meaning of those terms under Pennsylvania law for purposes of criminal charges", the office said in a release Tuesday.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro expanded on charges a Philadelphia judge approved a day earlier. The Inquirer also reported that while it's uncommon for a judge to overrule the DA's office, it isn't unprecedented.

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