The Amtrak engineer whose steering of Train 188 at 106 MPH—well over the 50 MPH maximum authorized limit for a dangerous curve in Philadelphia—resulted in a devastating derailment, has lawyered up. Brandon Bostian, a 32-year-old Queens resident, initially spoke to police but then stopped talking.
His lawyer, Robert Goggin, told ABC News, “He remembers driving the train. He remembers going to that area generally, [but] has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual." Goggin also said that Bostian suffered concussion and needed 14 stitches for a head wound—and voluntarily gave a blood sample and turned over his cellphone.
Goggin also said that Bostian didn't have any medical conditions. In the 2013 Metro-North derailment, which had four fatalities, the engineer said he was "in a daze". (The Metro-North train was going 82 MPH, above the 50 limit for the curve at Spuyten Duyvil. It was later revealed the train operator suffered from sleep apnea.) Goggin said that Bostian was "very distraught" over the crash.
However, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter blasted Bostian: "There’s no way in the world that he should have been going that fast into the curve... Clearly, he was reckless and irresponsible in his actions. I don’t know what was going on with him. I don't know what was going on in the cab, but there's really no excuse that can be offered, literally, unless he had a heart attack."
Bostian has been an engineer since 2010 and was a conductor for four-and-a-half years before that.
Seven people have been confirmed as dead from the Tuesday night derailment, and it's possible more casualties will be found as crews remove the wrecked trains. The NY Times reports, "Officials sorted through the passenger lists to try to account for everyone on the train, as investigators on Thursday pored over the remaining passenger cars of an Amtrak train that crashed. They cautioned that some passengers listed on the Amtrak manifest might not have boarded the train, while others might not have checked in with the authorities. Fewer than a dozen people remain unaccounted for, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation."
Eight people are in critical condition.
The Philadelphia Inquirer looked at the physics of negotiating the curve:
At the site of the Amtrak derailment on Tuesday, the track had a curvature of four degrees. Imagine a giant circle with a diameter of nearly 2,900 feet, more than a half-mile. The track's path would trace the outline of that circle.
The track also had a "superelevation" of five inches, meaning the outer rail was five inches higher than the inner rail.
Given those parameters, a locomotive pulling seven Amtrak-size cars could safely travel up to about 55 m.p.h., said Pennsylvania State University engineer Steve Dillen, who performed a rough calculation at The Inquirer's request.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating, had announced the train was going 106 MPH.
Chairman Robert Sumwalt said they will eventually speak to Bostian, "This person has gone through a very traumatic event and we want to give him the opportunity to convalesce for a day or so before we interview him."