Federal safety investigators probing the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia were waiting to interview the train’s engineer, whose attorney said on Thursday he did not remember the crash that killed seven people and injured more than 200 others.
The train bound for New York City from Washington was barreling into a curve at more than 100 miles per hour on Tuesday night, twice the speed limit, when the engineer slammed on the brakes, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.
Investigators said they have not yet interviewed the train’s engineer, identified by a city official as Brandon Bostian, to give him time to recover.
NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said on Wednesday that data from the black box, or event recorder, recovered at the crash site had not yet been fully analysed.
But he said the derailment could have been avoided by an advanced safety system called “positive train control,” that was not installed.
Application of the brakes slowed the train slightly to 102 mph (164 kph) in the seconds before the locomotive and all seven passenger cars derailed, Sumwalt said.
Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program on Thursday, Bostian’s lawyer, Robert Goggin, said his client had no memory of the crash and “no explanation” for what happened.
“He remembers coming into the curve, he remembers attempting to reduce speed, but thereafter he was knocked out just like all the other passengers on the train,” Goggin said.
Bostian does not remember deploying the emergency brakes, the lawyer said.
“He was distraught as he learned of the devastation,” he said.
Bostian was “beat up” and “exhausted,” with a concussion and a gash to his head, Goggin said.
“I believe as a result of the concussion, he has absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the event,” Goggin said. “We will have to wait for his memory to come back or for other facts to be ascertained by the NTSB.”
Bostian was treated for his injuries at Einstein Medical Center and released, a hospital spokesman said.
He was cooperating with authorities, the attorney said.
Rail service along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the country’s busiest with 12 million passengers a year, was disrupted after the accident, leaving travellers scrambling for alternatives.
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jeffrey Benkoe)
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