An engineer working for Amtrak learned Tuesday that he would soon stand trial to face charges stemming from a 2015 train derailment in Philadelphia that claimed the lives of eight people.
A judge last year threw out the case against Brandon Bostian, who is 34 years of age because of the court’s ruling that the evidence of the case suggested the crash was an ‘accident’ that did not occur due to negligence on the part of Bostian.
Prosecutors for the state of Pennsylvania did not agree and appealed the judge’s decision. On Tuesday, Judge Kathryn Lewis agreed with prosecutors ruling that the previous court acted in error and that sufficient evidence of negligence needed to warrant a trial was in fact present.
Bostian, perhaps stunned by the turn of events, sat quietly while the decision was read. While he will still be allowed to remain free on bail until trial he will not be allowed to leave the country and must surrender his passport. Bostian has remained on administrative leave without pay from Amtrak since the tragedy.
The crash happened when a train traveling from Washington to New York raced around a curve at twice the suggested speed limit. The train was ejected from the track resulting in crumpled train cars and passengers being hurled from the train into nearby wooded areas. In addition to the eight fatalities, approximately 200 passengers suffered injuries.
An investigation into the cause of the crash resulted in the conclusion that radio chatter had distracted Bostian and the engineer had become confused about his bearings.
Thomas Gehret, the previous judge in the case sided with prosecutors at the city level who felt that the actions of Bostian did not warrant criminal charges. One victim’s family was vocal in their disagreement with the court’s decision and sought redress on its own.
A lawyer for Bostian characterized his client’s actions as a momentary lapse on the part of an engineer that is usually safety-conscious due to distractions.
Bostian has filed a lawsuit against the railroad which is owned by the government. His claim is that an object struck the train and rendered him disoriented moments before the train derailed. Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board have been steady in stating their belief that no object struck the train.
Amtrak has accepted responsibility for the accident and has agreed to pay $265 million to compensate victims and families.