Brandon Bostian is an Amtrak engineer. When he was 32-years-old, he was at the controls on May 12, 2015, when his northbound train accelerated sharply just prior to entering a curve at more than double the speed limit. The train then derailed, killing eight people and injuring more than 200; four days after the crash, 17 passengers continued to be hospitalized. Bostian himself was treated for injuries and released by a hospital the same day of the crash.
Bostian was born in St. Louis, Missouri. His parents, Betty Deene Bostian and M Gregory Bostian, are attorneys who raised him in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Altruria Elementary, Elmore Park Middle School and Bartlett High School where Bostian graduated in 2001. Bostian graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia, College of Business, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management in 2006.
Bostian has been active on social media and train websites advocating for better train safety features and stricter limits on how long a train crew can remain on duty. Bostian has been a homosexual activist in support of same-sex marriage. Bostian was quoted in 2012 as saying:
|“||It’s kind of insulting to have to beg people for my right to marry. I feel like we shouldn’t even have to have this fight.||”|
However, there is no indication that Bostian is married.
After the derailment, Bostian told investigators that he could not recall any of the facts surrounding the crash, although on the same day as the crash he did subsequently edit his Facebook profile to darken his image, and also spoke with a friend. Bostian was an expert on trains, with one friend saying he was "obsessed" with them.
When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter criticized Bostian, not by name, for the reckless speed, the media and the NTSB lashed back at ... Nutter. The media then published stories from friends of Bostian who praised him. The NTSB claimed that Bostian was "extremely cooperative" with the investigation, even though he said that he could not recall the circumstances of the crash. Mayor Nutter dismissed the theory, raised by an unidentified person at the press conference, that an object such as a rock may have struck the train, causing the crash. On May 12, 2017, the Pennsylvania Attorney General charged Bostian with multiple serious crimes for the derailment.
Prior public statements about trains
Bostian had publicly criticized the train industry, including the government, for not installing technology on trains to prevent the same type of crash in which he participated. When asked about the curious fact that Bostian had made such comments, the lead investigator for the NTSB showed no interest in their evidentiary value.
Bostian retained an attorney quickly after the crash, and Bostian has not appeared in the media himself to explain the excessive speeding and his role in it.
Attorney for several victims
An attorney for several of the victims was more candid:
|“||The conduct of the engineer is both unfathomable and unconscionable.||”|
Coherent after accident
Although Bostian told investigators that he could not recall key details, he was in fact coherent immediately after the accident and even called 911:
|“|| “He was able to find and locate his phone which had been bagged, he was able to exit the locomotive, he called 9-1-1 himself. He was able to give his phone to another passenger,” said [a plaintiff's attorney].
Sources tell Fox 29 Bostian called 911 from his phone after he struggled his way out of the locomotive. He told investigators he was dazed. He had a gash on his head that later required 15 staples. Nonetheless, he calmly reported the crash and asked for help, but never identified himself as the train's engineer.
On May 9, 2017, the Philadelphia district attorney’s office closed its investigation and declined to press charges. However, Pennsylvania has a rarely used law that allows anyone to file a private criminal complaint in municipal court requesting misdemeanor charges against someone. In Pennsylvania, involuntarily manslaughter and reckless endangerment are misdemeanors. So, the lawyers for the crash victims filed the complaint, and in response, a judge ordered the district attorney to prosecute the case. However, the district attorney claimed to have a conflict of interest because the office had already declined to prosecute, so on May 12, the Pennsylvania Attorney General took the case and added a felony charge.
- "Speeding Amtrak driver called for train safety technology on curves like one he drove into at 102 mph and had been 'obsessed by trains' from childhood", Daily Mail, May 14, 2015. Retrieved on May 12, 2017.
- Matthew Haag and Daniel Victor. "Engineer in Philadelphia Amtrak Crash Is Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter", New York Times, May 12, 2017. Retrieved on May 12, 2017.