Train 188, a Northeast Regional, carrying 238 passengers and five crew members and heading to New York City from Washington D.C., derails and tips over in Philadelphia killing seven people. The front of the train is going into a turn at Frankford Junction in Port Richmond, when it started to shake before coming to a sudden stop. Dozens of passengers are injured, and some climbed out of windows to get away. Witness:
The train started to decelerate, like someone had slammed the brake. Then suddenly you could see everything starting to shake. You could see people’s stuff flying over me.
Rail service on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Philadelphia has been stopped. The NTSB says it is gathering information about the derailment and will launch an investigative team.
Federal investigators say the train was travelling at 102 mph, when engineer applied the locomotive’s emergency braking system just after entering the curved stretch of track. The maximum allowed speed on the curve is 50 miles per hour. The brakes slow the train to 102 mph before the locomotive and all seven passenger cars derail. Black box event recordings and video from the train have yet to be fully analysed. NTSB experts believe the derailment would have been prevented by installation of an advanced safety system called “positive train control”. Authorities have offered no explanation for why the locomotive was traveling so fast. They intend to interview the engineer in the next few days. NTSB official:
This person has gone through a very traumatic event and we want to give him an opportunity to convalesce for a day or two. But that is certainly a very high priority for us.
Bostian’s lawyer says his client has no memory of the crash, and that he suffered a concussion, leg injuries and a cut in his head that needed 14 staples to close. He has not yet talked with the NTSB.
He remembers driving the train, he remembers going to that area generally, has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual.
We’ve not interviewed the engineer, but I want to point out that for somebody who’s been through a traumatic event, this is not at all unusual for human behavior to have the mind blank out things like that, at least for the short term.
Philadelphia Mayor Nutter criticizes Bostian:
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 could be offered.
NTSB’s lead investigator:
[I’m] not going to agree with that at all. I think that’s a subjective, judgmental statement,” he said. “We’re here right now just to find out what happened, and that’s what we want to do. We want to find out what happened and why, and we’re not casting any judgment because at this point right now we want to talk to this person and find out what his perspective was.
An eighth body is found in the wreckage of the train by a search dog, in the mangled first car. The victim has not been identified; only six of the victims have been identified by authorities or friends and family. Mayor Nutter says that all 243 passengers are now accounted for.
Investigators say Bostian was not using his cellphone in the moments before the train derailed in Philadelphia last month. He also did not access the train’s wi-fi. NTSB:
[Analysis of phone records] does not indicate that any calls, texts or data usage occurred during the time the engineer was operating the train.