A National Transportation Safety Board member was not happy with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for going off on the “idiot” engineer of an Amtrak train going more than twice the speed limit when it derailed on a curve.
The engineer, 32-year-old Brandon Bostian of Queens, went to work with Amtrak as a conductor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He became an engineer in 2010.
Bostian’s attorney, Robert Goggin, told ABC that his client has “no explanation” for the crash and only remembers arriving at the crash site and calling 911 after the derailment. At least seven people were killed.
The engineer was treated for head and leg injuries and released from the hospital on Tuesday. He was taken to the Philadelphia Police Department and refused to speak with investigators. “I asked him if he had any medical issues,” Goggin said. “He said he had none. He’s on no medications. … He has no health issues to speak of and just has no explanation.”
“The television was on in the police district, and the constant count and recounting of the incident was being broadcast in his face all morning, and he was distraught.”
Nutter told CNN that “clearly, it was reckless in terms of the driving by the engineer.”
“There’s no way in the world a regional train should be doing 106 on a curve and one that is rated at 50 miles an hour. So, clearly, he was reckless and irresponsible in his actions. I don’t know what was going on with him. I don’t know what was going on in the cab. But there’s really no excuse that could be offered, literally, unless he had a heart attack. And he went to the hospital, we interviewed him, and he was released,” the mayor continued.
Nutter had heard a story that the train was delayed and the engineer may have been trying to make up for lost time.
“But, again, I mean, I mean, you almost have to be an idiot to — even if you are trying to make up time, to be doing 106 on a curve, as opposed to maybe on a straightaway. And so, I mean, that is not acceptable under any set of circumstances. I mean, look, let’s be reasonable,” he said. “People know from time to time a train might leave late. A plane might leave late. But you don’t do reckless things. You don’t endanger passengers by trying to make up time. I’m sure the seven people who lost their lives that we have confirmed, I’m sure they would not have minded being another 20, 25, 30 minutes late, as opposed to dying unnecessarily in a train wreck.”
NTSB member Robert Sumwalt, interviewed directly after Nutter, accused the mayor of making inflammatory comments.
“You’re not going to hear the NTSB making comments like that,” he said. “We want to get the facts before we start making judgments.”
Sumwalt said they would interview Bostian after he’d had a chance to settle down a bit from his crash trauma.
“You have a lot of questions; we have a lot of questions,” Sumwalt said Wednesday evening. “We intend to answer many of those questions in the next 24 to 48 hours.”