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Criminal Charges Dropped Again In 2015 Rail Crash

Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., has been calling for increased and improved railroad safety for years. After three fatal Amtrak collisions in less than two months over 2017, he renewed those calls. One of the improvements that Blumenthal has wanted to implement has been sitting on the “most wanted” list of the NTSB for years. That improvement is a system called Positive Train Control (PTC). According to the American Association of Railroads, PTC may be able to prevent train-on-train collisions, derailments that are caused by excessive speed, as well as stop a train in other emergency situations. 

CBS Local Philadelphia reports that the criminal charges against an Amtrak engineer have been dropped for a second time. 

In 2015, Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian was operating an Amtrak train as it derailed on a curve while traveling at twice the speed limit. The accident left eight people dead and about 200 people were injured aboard the New York-bound train. 

While there was no evidence that Bostian was impaired by alcohol or distracted by a cellphone, a NTSB investigation did determine that Bostian lost his bearings when distracted by radio chatter about a nearby train being hit by a rock.

Now, for a second time, criminal charges have been dropped against the engineer. He had been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the eight deaths and more than 200 counts of reckless endangerment over the injuries. 

Prosecutors will have a month to file an appeal. Until then, Bostian will remain free on an unsecured bond. Defense attorneys argued that Bostian’s mistakes in the accident do not amount to crimes. 

Amtrak took responsibility for the accident, agreeing to pay out $265 million to settle civil claims. The company also installed positive train control technology that can slow or stop a speeding train on its track from Boston to Washington. 

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