An Amtrak jury found engineer Brandon Bostian not guilty of all charges in connection with the May 2015 derailment of Train 188. This concludes years of legal twists over the accident that killed eight people and injured more than 200.
As a result of Brandon Bostian failing to control the speed of the train, prosecutors accused him of causing a catastrophe. They also accused him of eight counts of involuntary manslaughter, and almost 250 counts of reckless endangerment. On the other hand, the defense maintained that the engineer was simply distracted as a result of circumstances beyond his control and had made an honest mistake.
Outside the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice, Brandon Bostian struggled to hold back tears as he let his attorney Brian McMonagle speak to reporters.
“This has been a horrible accident from the beginning,” McMonagle said. “Only a couple hundred people were affected by it and a deserving man has had to deal with getting sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s now up to him and his family to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives.”
For victims’ families who had long awaited the criminal trial, Friday’s verdict ended a seven-year wait. In spite of Amtrak admitting liability for years and agreeing to bring five million in 2016, Bostian was not charged.
Brandon Bostian was initially not charged by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. In response to a judge’s order, the district attorney’s office recused itself and the state attorney general took over. Yet, Bostian was twice cleared of charges.
After a weeklong trial and a short suspension in deliberations Friday, the jury reached a verdict on its first day of deliberations. When one juror requested to be excused due to the death of his sister, an alternate was brought in and deliberations began anew.
Brandon Bostian was charged for his actions on May 12, 2015, when he was the engineer of Train 188 when it made its way to New York City, a route prosecutors said he had to know by memory to be permitted to be the sole engineer on the train.
In spite of later asking authorities if he was in New York, Brandon Bostian immediately told a passenger where they were.
According to a statement from the state Attorney General’s Office, it respects the jury’s verdict.
A statement read, “There is no question that the defendant’s train operated at an excessive speed, resulting in death and injury to his passengers.”. “Our goal during the long proceedings was to seek justice for the victims, and help bring closure to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives.”.
According to attorney Tom Kline, the trial served as a way to hold the public accountable for their actions. Bostian’s mistake that evening was acknowledged by the defense, he said.
Kline pointed out that the decision provides some measure of closure to the eight families whose loved ones lost their lives. In addition, it provides closure to the scores of others who were catastrophically injured by Bostian’s conduct that night, which triggered so much suffering and pain.
Following five days of testimony from other engineers, including the Amtrak engineer who had trained Brandon Bostian; crash investigators; the older brother of a crash victim; and a passenger injured in the crash, the jury reached its verdict.
As of last week, Brandon Bostian rejected a plea deal that would have dropped the charge of causing a catastrophe, choosing instead to let the jury decide what to do.