Brandon Bostian cleared of criminal charges in fatal Amtrak crash

Brandon Bostian
Brandon Bostian

Brandon Bostian, a former Bartlett resident and the engineer in a deadly 2015 Amtrak train crash, has had his criminal charges dismissed.

On Tuesday, Philadelphia Municipal Judge Thomas Gehret dismissed the charges and cited a lack of evidence at a preliminary hearing for Bostian. He said he believes the crash was more likely an accident than criminal negligence.

Bostian, 34, was facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and 238 counts of recklessly endangering another person. He is a 2001 graduate of Bartlett High School.

The crash happened on May 12, 2015, when Bostian’s train came off the tracks at the Frankford Junction in Pennsylvania when it entered a 50-mph curve at 106 mph. Eight people died, and about 200 more were injured.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found no evidence of impairment or use of a cellphone or other distracting device while on duty. Since the accident, Amtrak has invested in speed controls on all its tracks on the corridor between Boston and Washington.

Prosecutors initially said there wasn’t enough evidence against Bostian, but another judge overruled them after hearing a private criminal complaint from the family of one of the victims. Bostian was arrested on May 18, 2017, as the statue of limitations to charge him approached. His attorneys argued that his due process rights were violated.

During Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, a police officer said he found a small tablet computer in Bostian’s backpack in the train, but the device reportedly was later lost and not examined by federal investigators.

NTSB photo of Amtrak derailment on may 12, 2015
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Robert Sumwalt overlooks the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 derailment in Philadelphia, Penn. Photo source: NTSB, via; some rights reserved.