NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Friends say Brandon Bostian, the engineer at the center of the Amtrak train derailment investigation, has been a “train geek” most of his life.
He went to high school in Tennessee, and his friends say his room was plastered with train posters, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Bostian attended college and worked briefly at Target before he joined Amtrak, where he worked for four years as a conductor. He then trained as an engineer, which included a rigorous eight months in the classroom, a simulator and a supervised on-the-job education.
In his fifth year running trains, Bostian was in the lead control car when Northeast Regional 188 derailed Tuesday night traveling more than 100 mph, investigators say.
“That car we believe actually tumbled over and over and over numerous times, and the engineer survived,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Eight people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the crash.
Bostian, who lives in Queens, suffered serious injuries to his head and legs.
Following union protocol, he requested a lawyer, who says Bostian has no memory of the accident.
“He remembers driving the train,” lawyer Robert Goggin said. “He remembers going to that area generally. He has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual.”
Goggin said Bostian stowed his cellphone in a bag as required, but located it after the crash and called 911.
The attorney said Bostian is willing to speak to investigators at some point, and the attorney hopes his client’s memory returns as his concussion subsides.
The engineer provided a blood sample to be tested for drug and alcohol use.
Family Facebook pictures show typical scenes, such as Bostian having brunch with his mother at Sarabeth’s in Manhattan.
Friends have posted messages of supports, such as “You’re in my thoughts, Brandon. I know how dedicated you are to your job.”
On train discussion websites, Bostian often advocated for safety improvements, including Positive Train Control, a system that can automatically slow or stop a train if the engineer fails to act in time.
Experts say that system could have prevented Tuesday’s tragedy.
Nutter said he was frustrated to learn how fast the train was going.
“Part of the focus has to be, what was the engineer doing?” Nutter said. “Why are you traveling at that rate of speed?”
The mayor blasted Bostian saying, “Clearly, it was reckless.” But Robert Sumwalt, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board said, “We’re here right now to find out what happened and that’s what we want to do. We’re not casting any judgment calls at this point right now.”