The engineer who was piloting the Amtrak train that derailed Tuesday evening, causing eight fatalities so far, is claiming that he has “no memory” of the accident and “no explanation” for why it occurred.
Engineer Brandon Bostian’s attorney says that the 32-year-old employee suffered leg injuries and received 14 staples to close a gash in his head. The attorney also says that Bostian “has absolutely no recollection of the event.”
Bostian, a gay rights activist from California, has been an engineer with Amtrak since 2009, having started with the company as a conductor in 2007.
“He remembers driving the train,” attorney Robert Goggin said on Thursday. “He remembers going to that area generally, [but] has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual. The next thing he recalls is being thrown around, coming to, finding his bag, getting his cell phone, and dialing 911.”
Goggin also says that Bostian is “distraught” over the incident.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators have confirmed that the train was going up to 107 miles per hour as it came into a turn in the track in the northeast area of Philadelphia’s city center Tuesday evening. The speed limit for the turn is only 50 miles per hour.
Investigators also confirm that the emergency brake was applied just before the derailment.
Bostian’s attorney claims that no drugs, alcohol, or other medication played any role in the accident. Cell phone records also find that his phone was turned off, as per Amtrak regulations.
The NTSB is also reporting that, as of Thursday morning, a dozen people are still unaccounted for.
As more information about the engineer emerges, it has been discovered that he is a gay rights activist who once lived in San Francisco.
A 2012 interview in the Midtown Gazette revealed that Bostian feels gay marriage is a civil right. The article reported that he worked for the Prop 8 campaign in California.
“It’s kind of insulting to have to beg people for my right to marry,” Bostian said to the paper in 2012. “I feel like we shouldn’t even have to have this fight.”
He is also a self-described “train nerd” who always loved trains growing up in Memphis, Tennessee.
“When you heard the name Brandon Bostian, the first thing you would think is trains,” Bostian’s childhood friend Lee Allen said. “His walls were covered with pictures, he had several model sets. Sometimes we’d just go down to the tracks that ran through town and watch trains and shoot the breeze.”
Many are already blaming the derailment on operator error. But NTSB officials warn it is still too early to definitively claim that the accident is the engineer’s fault.
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