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Amtrak crash probe: Engineer was not on the phone

By Amy R. Connolly
Amtrak crash probe: Engineer was not on the phone
National Transportation Safety Board recorder specialist Cassandra Johnson works with officials on the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 derailment near Philadelphia in May. The NTSB said Wednesday the train's engineer was not using his cellphone prior to the derailment. Photo courtesy of NTSB/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- Federal investigators said Wednesday there is no indication that the engineer driving the Amtrak train that derailed in May was using his cellphone at the time.

The National Transportation Safety Board found Brandon Bostian did not access the train's WiFi system while he was operating the locomotive on May 12 when the train derailed, killing eight and injuring 200.

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Investigators have previously said the train, traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York, entered a curve at 106 mph, well above the posted 50 mph speed limit.

Bostian was injured in the crash, near Philadelphia, and said he does not remember the accident. His lawyers have said he kept the phone in a bag and only used it to call 911 after the derailment.

The NTSB said in determining if the phone was in "airplane mode" or was powered off, investigators probed the phone's operating system, which contained more than 400,000 files of metadata. Investigators said Bostian provided the passcode for access to the phone data, allowing access without having to go through the phone manufacturer. Analyzing the data was more difficult than anticipated "because the phone carrier has multiple systems that log different types of phone activity, some of which are based in different time zones."

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"Investigators worked with the phone carrier to validate the time stamps in several sets of records with activity from multiple time zones to correlate them all to the time zone in which the accident occurred, Eastern Daylight Time," the NTSB said.

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