PHILADELPHIA (WJZ/AP) — A judge has dismissed criminal charges against the engineer in an Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people, three being from Maryland.
The decision came Tuesday after a preliminary hearing for 34-year-old Brandon Bostian.
Judge Thomas Gehret says that based on the evidence offered by prosecutors, he feels it is “more likely an accident than criminal negligence.”
“Never expect to be in catastrophe until you are,” said Lenny Knobbs, who survived the crash.
The 34-year-old engineer was arrested in May after the family of one of the victims filed a private criminal complaint, and another judge overruled prosecutors who’d said there wasn’t enough evidence against him.
Bostian’s Washington-to-New York 188 train tumbled from the tracks on May 12, 2015, after accelerating to 106 mph as it entered a 50-mph curve.
About 200 people were injured.
Federal safety investigators concluded Bostian was not impaired or on a cell phone but lost his bearings while distracted by an incident with a nearby train.
Bostian’s attorney spoke moments after the decision.
“Brandon Bostian is a good man, his heart breaks for the loss of life in this case,” Brian McNonagle said.
One attorney representing the victims was less than pleased with the outcome.
“Brandon Bostian’s only job was to get people from one point the other safely. He didn’t even need to steer the train,” Thomas Kline said.
One legal expert says if the prosecution finds more evidence then it’s certainly possible the case could go to trial.
The Philadelphia Attorney General’s office says they are reviewing the judge’s decision.
Amtrak has also paid out millions in a settlement with victims.
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