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13 May 2017, 10:31 | Frank Carlson
LinkedIn via CNN
A Philadelphia judge has ordered that city prosecutors file charges against Brandon Bostian, the engineer who operated Amtrak 188 when the train derailed in May 2015, killing eight and injuring more than 150 others. Shapiro approved a felony charge of risking or causing a catastrophe and a string of misdemeanors, including eight counts of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
A law professor says Pennsylvania's attorney general has several choices in handling a judge's order to charge the speeding Amtrak engineer involved in a deadly crash.
During their investigation, National Transportation Safety Board members concluded that Bostian completely lost track of his location before the 2015 crash - after hearing about a nearby commuter train being struck with a rock over the radio.
Bostian, who has maintained an extremely low profile since the crash and reportedly lives in NY, has not yet been charged. 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.
The attorney's general office did not say when Bostian will be arraigned.
Amtrak 188 was traveling 106 miles per hour when it jumped the northbound tracks negotiating a large curve at Frankford Junction on May 12, 2015.
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 NTSB analyzed the engineer's cell phone to determine whether he was distracted by the device. 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 vehicle around Frankford Junction, where Bostian's train was traveling.
A federal judge signed off on Amtrak's $295 million settlement with the crash victims previous year.
Of the 238 passengers, eight were killed - Laura Finamore, James Gaines, Abid Gilani, Robert Gildersleeve, Derrick Griffith, Rachel Jacobs, Giuseppe Piras and Justin Zemser. The automated system notifies an engineer if the train is speeding and applies the brakes automatically if the engineer does not respond. Two children died in the ensuing crash.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro has expanded on charges filed a day earlier by a Philadelphia judge asked to approve a private criminal complaint sought by the family of a woman killed in the May 12, 2015, crash.
Kline spoke to Jacobs' father, John Jacobs, shortly after the charges were announced and said the man "wept at his daughter's grave tonight".
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