US & Canada

Amtrak driver says he cannot remember deadly crash

Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian and the train wreckage
Image caption Engineer Brandon Bostian has worked for Amtrak for nine years

Brandon Bostian, the driver of the speeding Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia, has said he has no recollection of the crash.

The 32-year-old suffered concussion, and required 14 stitches in his head, his lawyer Robert Goggin told ABC News.

An eighth body was recovered in the Amtrak rubble on Thursday, fire officials said.

Officials said all 243 passengers who were on the train are accounted for.

The train was going 106mph (170km/h) before derailing on a curve where the speed limit is 50 mph.

Federal investigators don't know why the train was travelling that fast.

A cadaver dog did a search of the area and found the eighth body, which was sent to the medical examiner's office. The identity will only be revealed if the family chooses to, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter said at the news conference.

Mr Goggin, who is speaking for Mr Bostian because he hasn't given a statement to law enforcement yet, said Mr Bostian remembers coming into the curve, trying to reduce the speed of the train and then getting knocked out. He doesn't remember using the emergency brake.

Mr Bostian is cooperating with police and consented to a blood test along with giving up his mobile phone. He claims not to have been drinking or taking drugs.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Investigators continued to survey the crash scene Thursday

Mr Nutter said the driver was "clearly reckless and irresponsible".

"Part of the focus has to be, what was the engineer [driver] doing? Why are you travelling at that rate of speed?" Mr Nutter said.

He defended his choices of words at the news conference.

"I don't think any common sense person would think it was OK to travel at that level of speed knowing there was a significant speed restriction on the curve," Mr Nutter said.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), however, was not as quick to blame Mr Bostian. Accident investigators want to give Mr Bostian some time to recover from shock before they start talking to him about the accident.

The victims

  • Jim Gaines, a 48-year-old father of two and software architect for the Associated Press, was travelling home to New Jersey following a work conference in Washington DC
  • Justin Zemser, a-20 year-old Navy Midshipman, was on leave from the Naval Academy in Maryland, and was visiting family in New York
  • Abid Gilani was Wells Fargo senior vice-president
  • Rachel Jacobs, a CEO of a small tech company and mother of a 2-year-old son
  • Derrick Griffith, a dean of student affairs for New York's Medgar Evers College
  • Bob Gildersleeve, 45-year-old father of two and vice president of EcoLab, a food safety company in Maryland
  • Giuseppe Piras, 41, of Italy, who was in the US on a business trip
  • Laura Finamore, 47, of Manhattan, who was returning to New York from Washington for a memorial service

The victims of the Amtrak derailment

Mr Bostian worked for Amtrak as a conductor for nine years. He became a driver in 2010. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2006.

Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman said the agency expects to have limited service from New York to Philadelphia by Monday with the possibility of full service Tuesday.

He pledged to have Positive Train Control, which may have prevented the accident, installed in the entire Northeast Corridor by year's end.

Amtrak has been working on installing the system since 2008.

"We will probably be the only railroad in the Western Hemisphere with Positive Train Control," Mr Boardman said.