FBI Joins Amtrak Crash Investigation, Feds Talk To Engineer

When last we checked in with our friends on the Left, they were absolutely, totally, universally convinced that the only possible explanation for the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia was that the train threw itself off the rails to protest impending Republican budget cuts. Evidently the law enforcement community isn’t buying this explanation, because the FBI has joined the crash investigation.

The local NBC News affiliate, NBC 10, reports that “investigators have asked the FBI to look at whether a projectile hit Amtrak Regional 188 moments before it sped up and derailed at a curve in Philadelphia Tuesday night.”

The National Transportation Safety Board also interviewed three Amtrak employees on Friday, including the engineer of the crashed train, Brandon Bostain:

Bostain said he remembers ringing the train’s bell as it passed through North Philadelphia station, about 4 miles from the crash site, but that his memory is blank after that point, Board member Robert Sumwalt said. The interview lasted an hour and a half and Bostain was described as “extremely cooperative.”

An assistant conductor told the NTSB she heard a SEPTA operator on adjacent tracks radio that his window had been shattered by an unknown projectile. That SEPTA train was one of two trains that NBC10 previously reported were hit by projectiles on the same line around the same time that night.

A short time later, the woman said she believed she heard Bostain tell the SEPTA engineer say their train had also been hit by something.

Moments later, the train careened off a curve at Frankford Junction in Port Richmond as it traveled more than 100 mph in a 50 mph zone. Eight passengers were killed and more than 200 people were hurt in the violent crash.

The engineer’s memory went blank? Do Republican budget cuts cause amnesia, liberals? Help us try to understand this.

At least one of these projectile incidents was reported on the very day of the crash, leading to speculation about everything from rock-throwing vandals to terrorists shooting at engineers. The area does seem to have a problem with morons who throw rocks at trains, and one window of Amtrak 188 reportedly looks as if might have been damaged before the crash.

It’s difficult to understand how a rock would have caused the train to accelerate to twice the posted speed limit. Amtrak employees make something like $91,000 a year on average, in salary and benefits, but maybe those heartless budget-slashing Republicans need to think about whether that’s enough money to hire people who can obey speed limits.

Also for the benefit of any remaining “infrastructure” junkies who think they can keep their pet talking point alive through the weekend, the Washington Examiner reports that a Positive Train Control speed-limiting system was installed on the track Amtrak 188 was passing over when it jumped the rails… but it wasn’t turned on.

Skinflint Republicans unwilling to tax the non-riding public enough to pay for engineers who know how to push the “on” button? Nope. Bureaucratic logjam from another agency of our titanic ultra-government:

According to a top congressional aide, Amtrak told the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday that the PTC system was installed along the section of track outside Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, where the crash occurred, but it was not operating.

The aide said Amtrak informed the committee it has encountered delays turning the PTC on throughout its system because of the need to get the bandwidths required to upgrade the radios to a higher MHz, which improves reliability.

Amtrak has worked out a deal with the Federal Communication Commission to get the broader bandwidth either late last year or early this year, an aide said.

It has spent $110 million on the PTC system over the past five years.

House appropriators are now trying to find out why the system wasn’t turned on sooner.

While you’re at it, boys, find out what happened to the last trillion dollars Democrats grabbed for “infrastructure.” Somehow we’re always just a day away from roads and bridges crumbling to dust and “Mad Max” mayhem breaking out, no matter how many millions of dollars end up in union coffers and political slush funds.

Update: Fox News reports that investigators have obtained a search warrant for engineer Brandon Bostain’s phone records.

Also, the NTSB says it has secured “outward-facing video” from the SEPTA train that was hit by a projectile, mentioned above, and will presumably search the images to see if it can spot any projectiles striking Amtrak 188. The NTSB further says it will be “reviewing radio transmissions” from trains in the area.


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