HARRISBURG – The Attorney General’s Office has announced it plans to appeal a Philadelphia Municipal Court judge’s recent decision to dismiss criminal charges against the engineer of an Amtrak train which derailed in that city in 2015.
In a brief press release issued Oct. 10, a representative for state Attorney General Josh Shapiro indicated he will continue to pursue charges against Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian.
“The Office of the Attorney General has filed its notice of appeal of the Municipal Court decision in the Amtrak case,” spokesman Joe Grace said. “We are seeking a legal determination based on the proper standard for a preliminary hearing.”
A tentative date for such a preliminary hearing has not been announced and when asked for additional comment, Grace stated that the Attorney General’s Office had nothing further at this time.
Bostian's criminal attorney, Brian J. McMonagle of McMonagle Perri McHugh & Mischak in Philadelphia, did not return requests for comment from the Pennsylvania Record.
Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gehret dismissed criminal charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and risking a catastrophe against Bostian on Sept. 12, concluding that there was not enough evidence him to bring the case to trial. This ruling echoed a prior decision from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
Gehret termed the derailment as something which was “more than likely an accident and not criminal.”
Bostian was at the controls of an Amtrak train that left the tracks in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood on May 12, 2015, resulting in the deaths of eight passengers and injuries to more than 200 others.
The state had argued Bostian was aware of his responsibilities as an Amtrak engineer and regardless, accelerated the train to speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour (more than twice the speed limit) when proceeding into the bend portion of the train track in Port Richmond and caused the derailment.
Federal authorities investigating the matter found Bostian was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol or distracted at the time of the incident, though he claimed to them that he had no memory of it.
Amtrak placed Bostian on unpaid administrative leave after the crash, where he remains today.
A separate, civil lawsuit filed by Bostian against Amtrak relating to allegations of an unsafe work environment is still pending in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org