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Judge orders charges against Amtrak engineer in 2015 derailment

By Ed Adamczyk
A judge on Thursday ordered Philadelphia's district attorney to charge Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in a 2015 derailment in which eight people died and hundreds were injured. File Photo by NTSB/UPI
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A judge on Thursday ordered Philadelphia's district attorney to charge Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in a 2015 derailment in which eight people died and hundreds were injured. File Photo by NTSB/UPI | License Photo

May 12 (UPI) -- A Philadelphia judge ordered the arrest of the Amtrak engineer aboard a 2015 derailment in which eight people died and hundreds were injured.

Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Marsha Neifield ordered Philadelphia District Attorney Josh Shapiro to charge engineer Brandon Bostian with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment on Thursday.

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The order came two days after prosecutors announced they would not bring criminal charges against Bostian. Neifield issued the reversal after lawyers of victims requested a reopening of the case. The district attorney's office declined to accept a criminal complaint from relatives of a person who died in the derailment, setting the scene for the hearing before Neifield.

The order came one day before the statute of limitations on reckless endangerment in the case was to expire.

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Earlier in the week, the district attorney's office announced the speed of the train was responsible for the derailment but evidence was inconclusive that the train operator should be charged with a criminal offense. Attorneys for victims then brought a private citizen criminal complaint against Bostian, a rare but not unprecedented legal action.

It was determined that Bostian was at the controls of the New York-bound Amtrak train on May 12, 2015, when, the National Transportation Safety Board later determined, it accelerated to 106 mph instead of slowed as it approached a curve at Frankford Junction. Bostian has said he had no recollection of the incident; he did not have drugs or alcohol in his system, nor was he using a cellphone at the time of the derailment. The NTSB concluded he was distracted by a rock thrown at a nearby train. Amtrak has since installed an automatic braking system on its trains in its Northeast Corridor.

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