The last thing Amtrak engineer Brandon Bastion remembered before Tuesday’s deadly crash was ringing the train bell as he passed the North Philadelphia train stop, federal investigators said. He had no memory of the train careening off the tracks while entering a turn near Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood at 107 miles per hour – over twice the recommended speed limit. The derailment killed at least eight people and injured more than 200 others.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Bastion, 32, was “extremely cooperative” during his nearly two-hour-long interview with investigators Friday. Both conductors on the Amtrak train were also interviewed. One conductor told investigators she overhead a radio conversation between Bastion and a local Philadelphia train engineer moments before the crash, in which Bastion said he thought his train was struck by something. Bastion, however, did not mention the alleged radio conversation during his interview with investigators.
Engineer, 32, was extremely cooperative; interview lasted 1.5 hrs. #Amtrak
— NTSB (@NTSB) May 15, 2015
Bastion suffered a concussion in the crash as well as injuries to his legs that required treatment at a hospital, according to his attorney Robert Goggin. “He has 15 staples in his head, stitches in one leg, the other knee is immobilized,” Goggin told ABC’s "Good Morning America" on Thursday. “I believe as a result of the concussion, he has absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the events … I’m told that his memory is likely to return as the concussion symptoms subside.”
NTSB investigators have requested help from the FBI in examining the front of the Amtrak train. They also obtained outward-facing video from the train in question and will be reviewing radio transmissions, the NTSB said on its official Twitter account.
A forward-facing camera on the train recorded its speed and showed that the train accelerated more than 35 mph in the final 65 seconds before it derailed. It’s not yet known why the train accelerated at that moment or if Bastion was actively increasing the speed, ABC News said.
The derailment on Tuesday night left wrecked railcars scattered along the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Hundreds of people are expected to file claims for damages. The first lawsuit in connection with the Amtrak crash was filed Thursday by an employee of the railroad service, NBC Philadelphia said. The plaintiff, Bruce Phillips, and his wife are seeking $150,000 from Amtrak in punitive damages for the railroad service’s alleged “reckless conduct.” Phillips was on board the last of the train’s seven cars when it veered off the tracks.