The lawyer for Brandon Bostian, the engineer of the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia, said that Bostian has “absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual," and does not have any explanation for what might have caused the crash. The train, which was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members, crashed Tuesday night while negotiating a sharp curve at over twice the designated speed, killing seven people and injuring over 200.
The lawyer's comments follow the discovery by investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that an initial investigation into the accident showed that the train was travelling at 106 mph -- more than twice the 50 mph speed limit. The investigators also found that the train's engineer had pressed the emergency brake while turning at a high speed, causing the train to derail within seconds.
However, Bostian’s lawyer Robert Goggin said, according to ABC News, that the engineer does not remember setting off the emergency brakes. “He remembers driving the train,” Goggin said, according to ABC News, adding: “He remembers going to that area generally, [but] has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual. He recalls -- the next thing he recalls is being thrown around, coming to, finding his bag, getting his cell phone and dialing 911.
"He said he was pulling into speed-restricted track," Goggin said, adding: "It was on speed-restricted track, and the next thing he recalls is waking up and looking for his cell phone."
Goggin also reportedly said that Bostian, who was also hurt in the crash and was being treated for concussion and leg injuries, is cooperating with the police and that he is “very distraught” after the crash. Goggin added that officials have collected Bostian’s blood samples and his cell phone for the investigation.
“Among other things, they (police) indicated that they wanted to get a search warrant for his blood, which we consented to,” Goggin told ABC News, adding: “I'm assuming [authorities asked for the phone] because they want to see whether he was on the telephone at the time of the accident. So he's cooperated, and not only that, he's indicated that he would make himself available to the police if they need any more information.”
Bostian, a 32-year-old from Queens, New York, graduated from the University of Missouri in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, BuzzFeed News reported, citing a university spokesperson. According to Bostian's Facebook page, he is originally from Memphis, Tennessee.
So far, five of the seven people who died in the accident have been identified. Officials at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York, confirmed that Derrick Griffith, 42, dean of student affairs and enrollment management at the college, was one of those who died in the accident. The college described Griffith, who also worked with poor urban youth, as “a champion for the downtrodden," according to the Associated Press.
Tuesday's crash was the deadliest train accident in the U.S. in seven years, according to AP. The report added that Amtrak had not installed a technology called Positive Train Control -- which prevents trains from crossing the speed limit -- on this particular section of the tracks.
"Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred," Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB reportedly said. And as the investigation centers on the train's speed and Bostian's actions, Sumwalt told AP that federal investigators would talk to the engineer after giving him some time to recover.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said: "Part of the focus has to be, what was the engineer doing?" adding: "Why are you traveling at that rate of speed?"