After previously avoiding prosecution, the Amtrak train engineer involved in the fatal derailment in Philadelphia in 2015 will once again face charges now that a Philadelphia judge has revived the case against him.
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis on Tuesday overturned a Municipal Court judge’s dismissal of the case against engineer Brandon Bostian.
The decision is in response to an appeal filed by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who charged Bostian with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment after the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case over lack of evidence.
Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gehret dismissed the charges against Bostian at a Sept. 12 hearing, ruling that there wasn’t enough evidence to show a crime had been committed.
Shapiro lauded the decision reviving charges against the engineer on Tuesday.
“We’re pleased with the court’s ruling today,” Shapiro said. “This is an important step in the legal process of this case. We will seek justice for every victim of the Amtrak train crash.”
Bostian’s lawyer, Brian McMonagle, did not return a call seeking comment.
The derailment, which killed eight passengers and injured nearly 200 more, was also the subject of a lawsuit that resulted in a $295 million settlement.
Thomas Kline and Robert Mongeluzzi, the Philadelphia plaintiffs attorneys who handled the civil lawsuit against Amtrak, had pushed for charges to be filed against Bostian.
In a joint statement released Tuesday, the two praised Lewis’ decision.
“By reversing the lower court, Common Pleas Court Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis ordered a Philadelphia jury to decide Mr. Bostian’s guilt or innocence as a result of what we have consistently believed was his reckless conduct. Our clients, who lost loved ones in the catastrophic derailment, were immediately relieved to hear the news of the decision and look forward to the jury trial, and the prosecution by the Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s Office.” They added, “It is significant that Mr. Bostian now faces the felony charge of risking a catastrophe.”
In February 2016, the National Transportation Safety Board released 2,000 pages of documents on the May 12, 2015, derailment, some of which detailed agency interviews with Bostian, who went around a curve doing twice the speed limit.
In a May 2015 interview, Bostian said his memory was blank after passing train platforms in North Philadelphia after leaving 30th Street Station—the next thing he remembered was coming to in the cab of the train after the accident. In a November 2015 interview, he recalled that he “may have” accelerated to 80 mph coming up to the curve where the train derailed in the Port Richmond section of the city—although he said he wasn’t sure whether that was on the night of the accident—stating, “I remember feeling as though I was going too fast around the curve.”