Workers surround the car of an Amtrak train that crashed on May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia. Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian, 38, was acquitted of criminal charges Friday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
March 4 (UPI) -- A former Amtrak engineer who was operating a train when it derailed, killing eight people and injuring more than 200 others, was found not guilty of various charges Friday after the jury deliberated for fewer than 90 minutes.
Brandon Bostian, 38, was the sole engineer operating an Amtrak train headed to New York City in May 2015 when he accelerated into a curve at Frankford Junction, reaching speeds up to 106 mph before the train derailed, prosecutors said during the trial, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
However, his attorneys said Bostian, who was required to know the route by memory, was distracted by radio reports of people throwing rocks at nearby trains.
Bostian, who had rejected a plea deal before his acquittal, had faced a sentence of up to life in prison if he had been found guilty on charges including involuntary manslaughter, causing a catastrophe, and 238 counts of reckless endangerment, according to KYW-TV.
Brian McMonagle, an attorney for Bostian, told reporters at the courthouse that his client now "gets a chance to take a deep breath" and live his life after his nearly seven-year legal battle.
Bostian was not charged initially after the crash, and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office recused itself from the case when a judge ordered prosecutors to file charges against him. The case was prosecuted by the office of the state attorney general.
"We've said from the beginning this was a terrible accident," McMonagle said. "A couple hundred people were forever changed by it and a good man has been living the ordeal of being asked to pay for a crime he didn't commit."
Amtrak settled a lawsuit related to the crash for $265 million in 2016, years before Bostian's trial.