Amtrak Engineer Acquitted of Charges Related to Deadly Derailment

A former Amtrak engineer was found not guilty Friday on all charges relating to a deadly derailment near Philadelphia in 2015 that killed eight people and injured hundreds more.

Brandon Bostian, 38, was acquitted of causing a catastrophe, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment by a Philadelphia jury. Bostian was the sole engineer on the Amtrak train when it was going double the speed limit on a curve before it derailed, the Associated Press reported.

Amtrak 188 was heading to New York City on May 12, 2015, when it passed through North Philadelphia Station towards Frankford Junction. The train was coming up on a curve traveling at 106 miles per hour, while the speed limit was only 50 mph.

Bostian eventually hit the emergency breaks, but was too late causing the train to jump the tracks. Out of the 250 passengers onboard, eight people died and 185 were injured, radio station WHYY reported.

The jury deliberated for less than 90 minutes, before determining that Bostian's handling of the train didn't constitute as criminal negligence. Earlier in the day, the jury had to restart their deliberations after one member dropped out because of a death in their family, according to WHYY.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the accident and determined Bostian lost "situational awareness" when he thought he was past the S-curve and on the straightaway when he accelerated from 65 mph to 106 mph, but really was in the middle of the curve instead, the AP reported. Investigators also said in its report that they found no evidence he was impaired, fatigued or using his cellphone leading up to the derailment.

"There is no question that the excessive speed of the train that the defendant operated resulted in death and injury to his passengers," the state attorney general's office said in a statement according to the AP. "Ultimately, the jury did not find his actions to be criminal, and we respect the jury's verdict."

Bostian's lawyer, Brian McMonagle, said prior to the incident that his client had a perfect track record, but was distracted by people throwing rocks in the area just before the crash, the AP reported. If Bostian was found guilty he could have faced up to life in prison.

"It's been seven years for him wondering if he'll ever get his life back. Today the jury gave him his life back," McMonagle said after the verdict. "We've been saying from the beginning there was never a crime committed here by Brandon."

Amtrak previously settled lawsuits over the crash for $265 million. Congress raised the damage cap from $200 million to $295 million following the crash.

Update 3/4/22, 5:08 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

Amtrak Engineer Acquitted in Deadly Derailment
On Friday, a Philadelphia jury acquitted Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian of causing a catastrophe, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the 2015 derailment that killed eight people. Above, emergency personnel work at the scene of the train derailment on May 13, 2015. Patrick Semansky/AP Photo