PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork/AP) — Big questions were swirling around Wednesday night about the engineer behind the controls of an Amtrak train that wrecked in Philadelphia a night earlier – and what he was doing moments before the crash.
As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, National Transportation Safety Board officials said engineer Brandon Bostian, 32, of Queens applied the emergency brakes seconds before the derailment, but it was too late.
The crash killed at least seven people and injured 200 others.
Late Wednesday, leaders in Philadelphia were slamming the train operator, while Bostian refused to talk to police.
“Clearly it was reckless in terms of the driving by the engineer,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said. “There’s no way in the world that he should have been going that fast into the curve.”
Bostian himself has not said what is happening either. He has lawyered up, and has refused to talk with investigators.
His Facebook account late Wednesday showed that he changed his profile picture to an all-black screen around 2:30 p.m., five hours after the deadly derailment.
Comments below said things like: “As soon as I saw the headline, I wondered if you were on board,” and: “Woke up thinking of you, buddy. Glad to hear you’re ok.”
Bostian lives in Forest Hills, Queens, and his LinkedIn account said he has been an engineer with Amtrak since 2010.
“Nice quiet person, that’s it. That’s the only thing I can say. Nice guy,” said Jose Quinones, the superintendent of Bostian’s building. “He spoke to me sometimes: ‘Hi, Jose, how are you? How you doing? How’s your family? That’s it.”
Neighbor Moresh Koya said he was acquainted with Bostian.
“I also saw him in the hallways and things; very personable guy; very nice, responsible,” Koya said. “I never had a negative thought about him.”
Quinones said Bostian never talked about his job.
Train Was Traveling Over 100 MPH, NTSB Says
Preliminary data show that the train was traveling more than 100 miles per hour, federal investigators have confirmed.
As CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported, investigators have been trying to piece together the facts about the accident, which left seven people dead and left train cars torn open and on their sides.
Northeast Regional Train 188 left Washington, D.C. and was headed to New York when it derailed shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday. It was supposed to arrive at Penn Station at 10:34 p.m. Amtrak said the train was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members.
National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said the train had left the 30th Street station in Philadelphia at 9:10 p.m. Eleven minutes later, the entire train – composed of one locomotive and seven passenger cars – derailed, Sumwalt said.
Just moments before the derailment, the engineer had applied the emergency brakes on the train, Sumwalt said.
The speed limit through the curve is 50 mph, Sumwalt said. Right before the curve, the speed limit is 80 mph, he said.
When the engineer-induced braking application was applied, the train was traveling at about 106 mph, Sumwalt said. Three seconds after the data to the records terminated, the train speed was 102 mph, Sumwalt said.