A conservative radio host is trying to make an issue of Amtrak train engineer Brandon Bostian’s history of gay activism, suggesting it may have played a role in the derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people. On her American Family Radio program, “Sandy Rios in the Morning,” Rios said Bostian’s sexual orientation could have been a “factor” in the crash, adding, “I think it’s something to be discussed.”
Bostian, 32, lived in San Francisco before moving to New York City, according to a Midtown Gazette article from 2012 that quoted him talking about his support for legalizing gay marriage. He was involved in fighting California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state in 2008.
“I’m not inferring that this accident happened because he was gay,” said Rios. “But I do think it’s an interesting part of the story, and I bet it will be edited out.” She implied that people dealing with “confusion that has to do with the very core of who they are” are more prone to emotional breakdowns under stress. Rios said she knew of an airline pilot who was undergoing gender transition and “put his entire plane at risk because he had an emotional, angry outburst at something that happened.”
Bostian has said he doesn’t recall anything that led up to Tuesday night’s fatal accident, which also left hundreds of people injured. The engineer, who was operating the train as it entered a sharp turn at over twice the speed limit, said he had “no explanation” for why the train was traveling at such an excessive speed.
Bostian is said to be working with federal investigators, who are trying to determine whether the crash was the result of a mechanical or human error. Investigators got a search warrant for Bostian’s cell-phone phone records, which they hope will provide clues about the crash.
Amtrak Train 188 derailed Tuesday night just before 9:30 p.m. EDT. The train was in route from Washington to New York City with 238 passengers and five crew members onboard.
Bostian hasn’t spoken publicly about his sexual orientation, but comments he’s made in the past would suggest he is gay. “It’s kind of insulting to have to beg people for my right to marry,” Bostian told the Midtown Gazette in 2012. “I feel like we shouldn’t even have to have this fight.”
UPDATE 1:30 p.m.: Rios identifies as a “long-time” Fox contributor on Twitter and said she joined the channel in 2005. However, Carly Shanahan of Fox News said Friday that Rios’ contributor agreement with the news channel ended in July 2013.