Amtrak engineer has ‘no recollection’ of fatal crash, attorney says

WASHINGTON — The engineer of the Amtrak train that crashed in Philadelphia doesn’t remember the moment of impact and has “no explanation” for what happened, according to his lawyer.

Engineer Brandon Bostian was “very distraught” to hear that at least seven people were killed in the crash, his lawyer Robert Goggin told ABC News.

According to his attorney, Bostian voluntarily submitted a blood sample, has turned over his cellphone, and is cooperating with authorities.

Goggin told ABC his client suffered a concussion and injuries to his leg that required treatment.

“I asked him if he had any medical issues, he said he had none,” Goggin said. “He’s on no medications. … He has no health issues to speak of and just has no explanation.”

Bostian “remembers driving the train,” but not the moments before the crash on a large curved area of track, north of Philadelphia, said his lawyer.

“He remembers going to that area generally, (but) has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual,” said Goggin. “The next thing he recalls is being thrown around, coming to, finding his bag, getting his cellphone and dialing 911.”

Robert Sumwalt, a National Transportation Safety Board member, said that a preliminary review determined the train, which originated in Washington, was traveling 106 mph as the engineer applied the emergency brake about 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. Three seconds later, just before the entire train derailed, the train had slowed to 102 mph.

The speed limit at the curve is 50 mph, according to Sumwalt.

Goggin told ABC Bostian does not remember setting the emergency brake.

“He said he was pulling into speed-restricted track,” said Goggin. “The next thing he recalls is waking up and looking for his cellphone.”

He said his client was with police for five or six hours before he arrived, and had volunteered a blood sample when police indicated they wanted one.

“He said, ‘You don’t need a search warrant, happy to give it to you,'” Goggin said.

As for his client’s cellphone, Bostian said, “‘Have it, take all the information you want. You don’t need a search warrant for that, either,'” according to his attorney.

Goggin said he assumes investigators asked for the cellphone “because they want to see whether he was on the telephone at the time of the accident.”

Bostian learned details of the tragedy from television coverage, while at the police station while “the constant count and recounting of the incident was being broadcast in his face all morning, and he was distraught,” Goggin said.

“He’s cooperated, and not only that, he’s indicated that he would make himself available to the police if they need any information,” said his attorney.

Sumwalt said because the engineer had experienced a traumatic incident and was injured, the NTSB would likely wait a day before conducting a complete interview.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up