Pa. Court Reinstates Charges Against Amtrak Engineer

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Posted by samfp1943 on Thursday, May 14, 2020 10:05 PM

seppburgh2

  This accident happened in 2015, and there have been at least 2 or 3 Court cases heard.  Amtrak accepted blame and paid out $265 million to the victims and families. Criminal charges have been dropped; What is to be gained by re-litigating this again (and again?) . 

 

 

 


 

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, May 14, 2020 10:24 PM

samfp1943
 
seppburgh2

  This accident happened in 2015, and there have been at least 2 or 3 Court cases heard.  Amtrak accepted blame and paid out $265 million to the victims and families. Criminal charges have been dropped; What is to be gained by re-litigating this again (and again?) . 

With covid-19 somebody has too much time on their hands.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Friday, May 15, 2020 1:27 AM

The lawyers need billing hours. 

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, May 15, 2020 9:13 AM

State AG in PA is a stepping stone to the governor's mansion.  This is a political move.  Also, many counties are now defying the state's orders for business closures, so it may be a distraction as well.  

 

It's funny they are worried about those deaths, but don't seem to care about the 4000+ COVID-19 deaths in the state so far.

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Posted by 243129 on Friday, May 15, 2020 7:28 PM

“Given his extensive training and experience and despite having 250 passengers aboard, (Bostian) consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk of derailment,” Stabile wrote. “He was going twice over the speed limit… Moreover, the evidence indicates that, based on his training and experience, (Bostian) was aware of the risk inherent in navigating the Frankford Curve.”

Stabile found that prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to merit taking the case against Bostian to a jury which “could conclude that (Bostian) acted recklessly in causing the derailment of Train 188.”

Bostian was also a 'victim'. A victim of Amtrak's inadequate training, vetting and supervisory protocols.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, May 15, 2020 9:18 PM

zugmann

State AG in PA is a stepping stone to the governor's mansion.  This is a political move.  Also, many counties are now defying the state's orders for business closures, so it may be a distraction as well.  

 

It's funny they are worried about those deaths, but don't seem to care about the 4000+ COVID-19 deaths in the state so far.

My guess is that both Zugmann and Electroliner1935 are pretty much spot- on...It seems that everything these days has a grounding in politics.... Sigh

I can't speak to the current politics wallowing around in Penna. now but it seems that former Engineer B/ Bostian is now the local political football....

   Lawyers will play with him like cats with spools of thread.  It seems that Mr. Bostian is headed to a similar legal fate that Engineer R, Gates found himself in; after the 1987 Gunpowder Falls wreck; for which he paid dearly.   

 

 


 

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, May 15, 2020 10:15 PM

samfp1943
My guess is that both Zugmann and Electroliner1935 are pretty much spot- on...It seems that everything these days has a grounding in politics.... Sigh

I can't speak to the current politics wallowing around in Penna. now but it seems that former Engineer B/ Bostian is now the local political football....

   Lawyers will play with him like cats with spools of thread.  It seems that Mr. Bostian is headed to a similar legal fate that Engineer R, Gates found himself in; after the 1987 Gunpowder Falls wreck; for which he paid dearly.   

Time for Bostain to attack and run for political office.  Sitting ducks are easier targets than flying ducks.

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Posted by alphas on Saturday, May 16, 2020 3:37 AM

The current PA AG is up for re-election this year.     He has gotten a lot of publicity for going after the Catholic church regarding the priest sex charges and also being one of the 10 or so dem State DA's that always challenges the Trump administration on everything.  He definitely wants to be governor (PA's current Lt. Gov. is his main competition but is very flaky), then probably US Senator.   This one will also help his visability come November since his political ambition would be dead if he loses his re-election bid.  

 I don't care for him since he had and still has Soros strong financial backing.   He is definitely very left-wing, welcomes all illegals to PA, and basically wants voting made so easy that there would be no real supervision to prevent any voter fraud (which has been a major ongoing problem with Philly, his home base, for decades) along with many other issues.

Having said that, I do agree with this prosecution since I believe the engineer's gross negligence was so extreme it was criminal.   

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Posted by 243129 on Saturday, May 16, 2020 8:28 AM

alphas
Having said that, I do agree with this prosecution since I believe the engineer's gross negligence was so extreme it was criminal.

So do you think he did it on purpose?

For someone to commit such an egregious error do you not think the tendency to commit such errors should have been apparent and noticed?

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, May 16, 2020 12:48 PM

I'm not sure if the examination of Bostian was sufficient to uncover possible cognitive dysfunction,  as I speculated in the past.  A criminal prosecution is as off-base as the ridiculous charges of voter fraud raised gratuitously here. 

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, May 16, 2020 2:10 PM

alphas
Having said that, I do agree with this prosecution since I believe the engineer's gross negligence was so extreme it was criminal.   

Explain. 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, May 16, 2020 2:16 PM

alphas

Having said that, I do agree with this prosecution since I believe the engineer's gross negligence was so extreme it was criminal.   

Have you ever driven while tired, or briefly fallen asleep behind the wheel?  If yes, then you are probably guilty of the same offence as Brandon Bostian.

I imagine you have been lucky enough to have never caused an accident.  

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Posted by alphas on Saturday, May 16, 2020 11:35 PM

No, I've never fallen asleep while driving.   If I'm that tired I don't drive.    I've never caused an accident other than backing into a car bumper a month after getting my license.  But none of that is the point.

An Amtrak engineer has basically the same responsibility as an aircraft pilot or a Greyhound driver.    He/she must always be alert.   If he loses concentration and many people die and are injured because of his/her inattention that is gross negligence on the engineer's part.    This one caused extreme and lasting grief to many people with his inattention.    Unlike in Washington State, he was not brand new on his run so he does not have that as an excuse. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, May 17, 2020 3:25 AM

Have you ever driven a car with rocks being thrown at you?

Or thrown at the car ahead of you or one coming the opposite way?

Or even just been a passenger in such a cars siituation or bus?

Unattentiveness is not the whole story in this case.

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Posted by 243129 on Sunday, May 17, 2020 7:43 AM

alphas
An Amtrak engineer has basically the same responsibility as an aircraft pilot or a Greyhound driver. He/she must always be alert. If he loses concentration and many people die and are injured because of his/her inattention that is gross negligence on the engineer's part.

I agree but the company also must bear some culpability for their training, vetting and supervisory procedures. Amtrak has a history of the unknowing teaching the unknowing. The Dupont WA disaster is indicative of that.

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Posted by 243129 on Sunday, May 17, 2020 7:59 AM

daveklepper

Have you ever driven a car with rocks being thrown at you?

Or thrown at the car ahead of you or one coming the opposite way?

Or even just been a passenger in such a cars siituation or bus?

Unattentiveness is not the whole story in this case.

 

The South Bronx from Van Nest to E.149th, and containing two interlockings, was considered a 'war zone' during the '60s and '70s. Stonings, obstructions being placed on the tracks, trespassers boarding slow-moving freight trains, etc. were commonplace yet incidents of losing situational awareness were rare if not nonexistent. Why? Because you had properly trained and vetted personnel unlike the Amtrak of today.

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, May 17, 2020 7:59 AM

The company had installed automatic speed protection in the opposite direction, but not in the direction of #188.  Obviously they knew of the danger of not slowing down for the curve.  Their theory of the need for the automatic control in one direction was that that was the direction from which a train would be normally approaching at full speed.  The reason for the automatic speed control was in case the engineer forgot where he was.  But it would not be needed for the direction of #188 because trains already had a lower speed limit from that direction.  Apparently they forgot about the fact that the engineer traveling in the direction of #188 might forget where he was in entering the speed restriction ahead of the curve speed restriction.   

 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, May 17, 2020 10:44 AM

daveklepper
Unattentiveness is not the whole story in this case.

Not by a long shot.

But neither is supposed concern over rock-throwing being an acceptable excuse in this particular case for inattention to location or resumption of high speed.  

Nor is supposed trauma-induced amnesia, when the record indicates highly-conscious (and sensible) use of the horn during the accident.

There was much about this that was whitewashed and covered up in ways doubtlessly infuriating to accident victims, or their grandstanding putative 'advocates', who want closure on how they were injured or their loved ones killed.  Unfortunately the only way this can now be addressed is through a criminal trial, the actual outcome of which highly mirrors the Ukraine impeachment show in many relevant respects.  What possible purpose (aside from revenge) can be served by throwing that young man in jail for what he did is difficult for me to see; that 'public officials' are pursuing this happily immune (except distantly at the polls, and only in some cases) from consequences of prosecution themselves is a strong proof that effective tort reform is not the only area of legal-abuse correction we as a society should prioritize.  But it does need to be said that a clear trial is one of the only ways we might get to the bottom of what was actually involved.

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Posted by zugmann on Sunday, May 17, 2020 10:49 AM

There can never be a fair and impartial trial offered. 

Jsut look at what all the "experts" on this site have to say every time this subject comes rolling around. 

 

The deck's been stacked for years. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, May 17, 2020 12:35 PM

Overmod

 

 
daveklepper
Unattentiveness is not the whole story in this case.

 

Not by a long shot.

But neither is supposed concern over rock-throwing being an acceptable excuse in this particular case for inattention to location or resumption of high speed.  

Nor is supposed trauma-induced amnesia, when the record indicates highly-conscious (and sensible) use of the horn during the accident.

There was much about this that was whitewashed and covered up in ways doubtlessly infuriating to accident victims, or their grandstanding putative 'advocates', who want closure on how they were injured or their loved ones killed.  Unfortunately the only way this can now be addressed is through a criminal trial, the actual outcome of which highly mirrors the Ukraine impeachment show in many relevant respects.  What possible purpose (aside from revenge) can be served by throwing that young man in jail for what he did is difficult for me to see; that 'public officials' are pursuing this happily immune (except distantly at the polls, and only in some cases) from consequences of prosecution themselves is a strong proof that effective tort reform is not the only area of legal-abuse correction we as a society should prioritize.  But it does need to be said that a clear trial is one of the only ways we might get to the bottom of what was actually involved.

 

You don't know why this accident happened and neither do any of the rest of us.  As I have said, as far as I know and recall from the NTSB reports, some aspects of this guy's pre-accident cognitive status were not investigated thoroughly.

Comparing this possible trial with the impeachment process is irrelevant.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, May 17, 2020 4:03 PM

When I saw this thread pop up the first thing I thought was "Holy Mary, Mother of God!  Not again!"  

Look, would it make some people happy if they just took the old Prussian approach and left Mr. Bostian alone in a room with a Luger loaded with one bullet and asking him to do the "right thing?"

I'm starting to wonder.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, May 17, 2020 4:16 PM

Flintlock76

When I saw this thread pop up the first thing I thought was "Holy Mary, Mother of God!  Not again!"  

Look, would it make some people happy if they just took the old Prussian approach and left Mr. Bostian alone in a room with a Luger loaded with one bullet and asking him to do the "right thing?"

I'm starting to wonder.

You'll no doubt recall that the Nazis also used this tactic, with Rommel.

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Posted by NP Eddie on Sunday, May 17, 2020 4:24 PM

As a retired professional railroader, I am disappointed that Mr. Bostian's actions would again be called in question. He made a mistake and became unaware of his location. This reminds me of Fatty Arbuckle being tried for the alleged again, until he was found not guilty. His career was ruined.

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Posted by Convicted One on Sunday, May 17, 2020 4:26 PM

Perhaps Bostian should plea a "crime of necessity" defense, wanting only to draw attenton to the inferior training, vetting, and supervision  running rampant at Amtrak?

I doubt it would get him off the hook, but he at least might be able to drag a few others down with him, and make everyone sorry they charged him in the first place, which is almost as good.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, May 17, 2020 5:44 PM

SD70Dude
You'll no doubt recall that the Nazis also used this tactic, with Rommel.

Actually, they gave Rommel the choice between a cyanide capsule and "you know what," for him and his family.  But I see the point.

The Nazis DID do the "Prussian thing" with Ernst Roehm, the Storm Trooper chief during the 1934 "Blood Purge."  They had to shoot him, he wouldn't give them the satisfaction of shooting himself.   

Don't feel too sorry for him though, he wasn't exactly a nice guy either. 

Mind you, if I was in Roehm's position I'd have sat in a chair, Luger in hand, and popped the first SS man that came in the room to find out what the delay was.  Why not?  He was a dead man anyway.  Might as well take one with you. 

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Sunday, May 17, 2020 10:13 PM

Are there wayside speed limit signs along the Northeast Corridor? If so, how far before this 50 mph curve would the sign be posted?

Or is this strictly a know-your-territory situation?

And does this area now have PTC? Does all of the NEC?

Finally, does the FRA have any way to collect data regarding how often PTC slows a train, and whether an accident was likely prevented?

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Posted by Milw_and_Miss on Monday, May 18, 2020 7:02 AM

Flintlock76
Actually, they gave Rommel the choice between a cyanide capsule and "you know what," for him and his family.  But I see the point.

Yes, as he was a popular war hero and had enough service to retire..... choice was revolver and state funeral with all the honors as well as keep his Army pension or face Roland Friesler's court and be humiliated as well as his family lose his Army pension and their home and likely become destitute if he chose the state prosecution path.

Still popular politico family after the War his Son became Mayor of Stuttgart, Germany and kept getting re-elected, through the 1990's I believe.    He was a very popular Mayor when I was stationed in the Army in West Germany and he was a frequent guest of American and Canadian forces.   He gave tons of interviews to Stars and Stripes and AFN.  

His Son was witness to that whole day and watched it unfold and also had some last words with his Father.   I believe his Son was even in uniform on that day, forget which organization he belonged to at the time of his Father's death not sure if it was Nazi related or Army related.    I think there is even a You Tube video with him in it narrating parts of that day.

Another interesting historical note, General Pattons Son became a General and also served in the Cold War Army in Germany and I believe commanded at least one of his former Father's Armored Divisions.    I think that was early to mid-1970's though, can't remember and don't want to spend time Googling it.   The Mengele Family survived the war as well and I think Bavaria bailed out their farm implements business which almost went bust but they were known prior to the war for making farming equipment like tractor drawn hay wagons.   Medium Blue with MENGELE in large white letters on the tailgate.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, May 18, 2020 9:17 AM

charlie hebdo
You don't know why this accident happened and neither do any of the rest of us.

The point is not whether I "know" why this happened, it's that details about how it happened don't jibe with the official pravda that was put forward, by the NTSB and others, at the time.  

In that respect, I sympathize with legal people and State officials who want to establish truth through a supposedly fair legal proceeding against him.

Unfortunately, in our current system, we can't have a trial just on 'finding of facts'; it has to be adversarial, prosecutorial, and involve criminal penalties some of which can be imposed almost whimsically by judges -- either to forgive or 'punish'.  Separating "getting at the truth" from various kinds of political grandstanding is difficult at best even with fair-minded people, and as with Nifong I don't think some of those people are fair-minded.

As I have said, as far as I know and recall from the NTSB reports, some aspects of this guy's pre-accident cognitive status were not investigated thoroughly.

I'm not going to question this in any respect, although you might want to take the time to recap precisely which things 'should have' been either better investigated or better stated in reports like NTSB reports.  I had the strong impression that 'the system' was allowing Bostian's counsel to spin out a version that kept him out of vengeful prosecution, and that most of the subsequent legal shenanigans to "bring him to the bar of justice for his negligent crime" has been (for whatever motivational reason) at least been framed as nominal excuse to redress that.  After all, in a fair trial, what does Bostian have to fear? </sarc>

charlie hebdo
Comparing this possible trial with the impeachment process is irrelevant.

You, me, and the fellow behind the tree know that the thing was a political show-up, largely intended to screw over Biden's chance at a candidacy when he inconveniently refused to withdraw.  I see many parallels between the political manipulation in the repeated Bostian 'prosecutions' and the impeachment business ... both on the nominally Democrat and Republican sides ... and also in the somewhat foregone-predictable nature of the expensive prosecution of the matter.

I don't see any possibly applicability of 'crime of necessity' even if it was intended sarcastically; frankly, the confused-mistake hypothesis made, and still makes, the best sense as an explanation.  Hopefully it's the holes in the 'official' account, and not some secret-agenda attempt to get around the Amtrak liability cap, that represents the thing driving the current persecution attempt.

Personally, I think there ought to be a trial, and right from the get-go Bostian's counsel should make as much publicity as possible about the grandstanding and expedient nature of the 'prosecution' and its case.  While eagerly embracing a fair explanation of the events that led up to and produced this accident.  If the general public in Philadelphia can be shown as much as was established in Durham County, perhaps another message can be sent to the expedient that our culture is revulsed by some kinds of expediency.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, May 18, 2020 9:40 AM

Lithonia Operator
Are there wayside speed limit signs along the Northeast Corridor?

All these things were exhaustively, and at times exhaustingly, discussed in the previous threads on the subject, some of which may be revived or linked when the new trial activity commences.

There are arguments about whether warning signs 'should' be posted when knowing the territory is a necessity for qualification.  There are further arguments about whether providing warning signs actually causes more legal trouble and potential liability than not.  In this particular case it was notable that there were, in fact, warning signs on this known-dangerous curve ... just not in the direction from 40mph restriction in the direction of a 50mph restriction.  This was much the same reason why ATS functionality in that direction was supposedly disabled.

If so, how far before this 50 mph curve would the sign be posted?

In this case, far enough to notify the engineer to set up his train.  Remember again that he's coming out of a more severe permanent speed restriction, and that this is one of the absolute last places on the railroad that anyone would run a powerful motor up to full acceleration; there is comparatively little need for a sign in this location to provide 'early warning' to brake a train down from higher speed to reach safe limits.

And does this area now have PTC? Does all of the NEC?

The specifics here were carefully discussed at the time, and there were some surprising issues involving delay of key frequency allocations to Amtrak that contributed to the 'hole' in coverage between the old electromechanical PRR system and PTC coverage.

As I recall, one of the things that was completed on a 'hurry-up' basis was application of train-control coverage in both directions on the curve; I have no reason to believe that mandated PTC coverage isn't effectively active on the NEC now.

There is certainly capability in the PTC architecture to track and log the incidence of critical activations.  As aI recall this is not regularly done, in no small part because it would be a wonderful opportunity for fishing expeditions by government or management to screw people for technical violations, usually involving inflated statutory penalties.  I believe the only recording of activation is in the 'loops' in the EDRs, which automatically overwrite every couple of hours when there is no accident, and conveniently seem to be blank or corrupted in relevant ways when there isone.

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