PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork/AP) — In a period of just over a minute, an Amtrak train accelerated from 70 mph to more than 100 mph before it skipped the tracks and crashed in Philadelphia this week, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said investigators will soon meet with the engineer in the deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia this week. There had been reports that engineer Brandon Bostian had refused to talk to investigators, but Sumwalt said the reports were not true and that Bostian has agreed to talk to investigators.
Speaking one-on-one to CBS2’s Jessica Schneider Thursday evening, Sumwalt said investigators plan to interview the engineer “in the next few days.”
“We’re really pleased he’s agreed to be interviewed by the NTSB, and we’re just waiting for the final arrangements on that,” he said. “He suffered a lot of trauma, of course, like others, so we want to make sure he’s physically able to do it.”
Engineer Bostian, of Queens, has hired a lawyer who says his client has no recollection of the crash. Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Bostian’s lawyer, Robert Goggin, said the engineer suffered a concussion in the crash and had 14 staples in his head, along with stitches in one leg.
“He remembers coming into curve. He remembers attempting to reduce seed and thereafter he was knocked out,” Goggin said Thursday. But he said Bostian does not recall anything out of the ordinary and does not remember using the emergency brake.
The lawyer said the last thing the engineer remembered was coming to, looking for his bag, retrieving his cellphone and calling 911 for help. He said the engineer’s cellphone was off and stored in his bag before the accident, as required.
NTSB investigators said they plan to sit down with Bostian, hand him a blank piece of paper, and write down what he does remember.
Goggin said his client was distraught when he learned of the devastation and believes the engineer’s memory will likely return once the head injury subsides.
Goggin said that his client “cooperated fully” with police, immediately consented to a blood test and surrendered his cellphone. He said he had not been drinking or doing drugs. Police had said Wednesday that the engineer had refused to give a statement to law enforcement.
Meanwhile, the NTSB has also reviewed video from a forward-facing video recorder, which showed that 65 seconds before the recording cut off at the time of the crash, the speed was above 70 mph. The speed accelerated above 80 mph within 22 seconds, 90 mph within another 12 seconds, and 100 mph within another 15 seconds.
The speed topped out at 106 mph as it entered the curve – where the speed limit drops to 50 mph, Sumwalt said earlier.
Just before entering the curve, the engineer applied an emergency brake. Seconds later, the train tilts about 10 degrees to the right and the recording goes blank, Sumwalt said.
Sumwalt declined to speculate on whether the acceleration would be considered “rapid.” He could not say whether the engineer manually accelerated the train or whether it was automated.