US & Canada

Philadelphia Amtrak crash: Driver faces criminal charges

Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, from Washington to New York, that derailed yesterday May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Eight people were killed and more than 200 injured

Pennsylvania has filed criminal charges against the driver of an Amtrak train which derailed in 2015 in Philadelphia.

Eight people died and more than 200 were injured in the crash.

Brandon Bostian has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, causing or risking a catastrophe, and "numerous" counts of reckless endangerment, prosecutors said.

The move comes days after prosecutors in the city of Philadelphia said they would not pursue charges.

The district attorney's office there said that while the evidence suggested the derailment was caused by excessive speed, it found no evidence of criminal intent.

But at state level, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, said the scope of his charges "go beyond" what was considered in the Philadelphia case.

Mr Shapiro said his team would "pursue justice on behalf of the victims of this deadly crash".

Amtrak 188

Amtrak train 188 was on its way from Washington to New York on 12 May 2015 when it came off the track in the city of Philadelphia.

Investigators found that the train was travelling at 106mph (170km/h) along a curve - more than double the speed limit for that section of the line.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, investigators said Mr Bostian was "extremely co-operative" but could not remember details of what had happened.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter described the scene as "an absolute disastrous mess"

But a report a year later by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that "a loss situational awareness" by the train's driver caused the fatal derailment.

The report said Mr Bostian was distracted by radio communications about another train driver whose train had been hit by an object.

After he "lost situational awareness as to where his train was located in relation to the curve", the NTSB said, Mr Bostian actually accelerated the train to past 100mph - "consistent with a belief that his train had already passed the curve into an area of relatively straight track".

In its report, the NTSB said that a safety system called positive train control - which it first recommended implementation of in 1970 - would have prevented the crash.

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Media captionA 45-second look at how Positive Train Control works

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