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Trial date set for engineer in 2015 Amtrak derailment

Lawyers are still seeking additional information from feds in advance of trial.

Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian.
Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian.Read moreJessica Griffin

The Amtrak engineer charged with the deaths of eight people in a 2015 derailment in Philadelphia is scheduled to face trial next fall.

Brandon Bostian, 35, is expected to be tried starting Sept. 23 before Court of Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott. The engineer, who was in court Thursday, is facing 216 counts of reckless endangerment, a count of causing a catastrophe, and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the May 12, 2015, derailment. Along with the eight deaths, more than 150 people were hurt..

Amtrak train 188 had just left 30th Street Station on its way to New York City when it approached the Frankford Curve at 106 mph, more than twice the posted speed for the bend in the tracks. Bostian told investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board he couldn’t remember why he didn’t slow the train as it approached the curve. A SEPTA train had reported being hit by a rock shortly before the derailment, and investigators concluded that incident could have distracted Bostian and caused him to lose “situational awareness.”

Some survivors of the derailment, said Bostian, whose job made him responsible for the lives of hundreds, should face criminal responsibility. What followed was a back and forth in which charges against Bostian were ruled out, then filed, then dismissed, and finally reinstated, with the state’s Attorney General’s Office prosecuting.

In recent months both defense attorneys and prosecutors have sought from the NTSB additional documentation about the derailment than was in its publicly available file. The Attorney General’s Office has filed an appeal with the agency to obtain material the NTSB has not already released.