Amtrak Engineer Has "Absolutely No Recollection" of Crash: Lawyer - NBC New York
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Amtrak Engineer Has "Absolutely No Recollection" of Crash: Lawyer

"The next thing he recalls is being thrown around, coming to, finding his bag, getting his cell phone and dialing 911," Brandon Bostian's lawyer told ABC News.



    Deadly Derailment Investigation

    The investigation into why the Amtrak train was speeding around the curve in Philadelphia's Port Richmond neighborhood focuses on the engineer. NBC10's George Spencer looks at the possible reasons for his actions. (Published Thursday, May 14, 2015)

    Within hours of the deadly derailment of Amtrak train 188 in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, the engineer at its helm had changed his Facebook profile photo to a plain black rectangle.

    Brandon Bostian's friends seemed to know of his role in the crash, which killed eight people and sent hundreds more to hospitals, even before his name publicly surfaced. They rallied to his side on Facebook.

    "It could have been any one of us and you are not alone," one Facebook friend who identified himself as an Amtrak engineer in California said, the Associated Press reported.

    In an interview with ABC's “Nightline” on Wednesday night, Bostian's lawyer Robert Goggin said Bostian "has absolutely no recollection of the incident."

    Goggin said that Bostian recalls operating the controls, but doesn’t remember what happened when the speeding train slammed into a curve and jumped off the tracks, injuring more than 200 people.

    "The next thing he recalls is being thrown around, coming to, finding his bag, getting his cell phone and dialing 911," Goggin told the news program.

    Bostian, 32, suffered a concussion and required 14 staples in his head, as well as several stitches in his leg, Goggin said. Bostian was released from the hospital and interviewed by police Wednesday.

    Bostian, of New York City, handed over his cellphone to East Detectives and gave a blood sample, investigators told NBC10.

    Bostian refused to talk to police on Wednesday, authorities said. No one has been named a suspect in the derailment at this point, Lt. John Stanford said.

    NTSB investigators say the train was traveling at 106 miles per hour along a sharp curve where the speed limit is 50 mph. They also say Bostian slammed on the emergency brake moments before the train hurled off the tracks.

    When Bostian applied the emergency brakes, he managed to slow the train only to 102 mph by the time the locomotive's black box stopped recording data, said NTSB's Robert Sumwalt. The speed limit just before the curve is 80 mph, he said.

    Sumwalt said the speed estimates were based on preliminary reports, though officials are confident the actual speed of the train at the time was close to the initial report.

    On Thursday, Sumwalt said the train sped up in the last minute or so before the crash, accelerating from 70 mph to over 100 mph.

    He said it is not clear yet whether the speed was increased manually. Investigators have found no problems with the track, the signals or the locomotive, Sumwalt said.

    Sumwalt said Thursday that Bostian had agreed to be interviewed by the NTSB and that the meeting will take place in the next few days.

    “This person has gone through a very traumatic event, and we want to give him an opportunity to convalesce for a day or so before we interview him,” Sumwalt said at a briefing on Wednesday. “But that is certainly a high priority for us, to interview the train crew.”

    Bostian lives in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, according to social media profiles, public records, friends and neighbors.

    A friend who knows him in New York City told MSNBC that Bostian is a "cheerful guy" and a rail buff. The acquaintance, who did not want to be identified, said he last saw Bostian two weeks ago and talked about trains with him.

    He added that Bostian loves his job. "We didn't meet because of trains, but bonded because we both are fans. The notion that he made it, so to speak, driving trains is of no surprise to me," he said.

    The young engineer got a job with Amtrak right out of college, according to his LinkedIn profile, first working as a conductor and then an engineer for a total of nine years with Amtrak.

    Lee Allen, Bostian's best friend through middle school and high school, told The New York Times, Bastion was passionate about trains and had "his walls were covered with pictures, he had several model sets."

    Bostian's friend from Tennessee, Stefanie McGee, said he was obsessed with trains while growing up, The Associated Press reported.

    "He would go on vacation and bring back subway maps," McGee recalled Thursday. "He would go places with his family and he would talk about the trains instead of the places."

    Ryan Smith knows Bostian from attending the same non-denominational church at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where Bostian received his Bachelor of Science in 2006. Smith told NBC News Bostian "always just seemed a very competent person, who always seemed on top of what he was doing."

    Smith said Bostian "was a pretty quiet, polite person" but "hard to get to know. He was very introverted." The two men had dinner in New York City in September 2006 and stayed in touch afterwards via Facebook, Smith said.

    "It's always seemed like his life has revolved around [his Amtrak job] in my ways. He seems like somebody who is very dedicated to it," Smith said. "It shows anything can happen," he added, referring to the accident.

    According to the Times,  on the online forums of, a writer who signed many of his posts as “Brandon” criticized railroad companies for not doing more to prevent accidents. The Times said the subjects and locations of the posts strongly indicate they were posted by Bostia.

    NBC Bay Area reported that Bostian also worked for the California commuter rail line Caltrain several years ago when the agency contracted with Amtrak. It's not clear what job he held there.

    The superintendent of the Forest Hills building where Bostian has lived alone for two and a half years said he's a "really nice person."

    "Nice person, always said, 'Hello, Jose, how are you?'" said Jose Quinones. "Nice, very quiet."

    Quinones' wife, Zuma Quinones, said she didn't know Bostian was an engineer and was stunned by the news. She said he was friendly.

    She said if he returned home, she would tell Bostian: "Welcome, you're home. Thank God."

    Bostian is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, according to his social media profiles, and attended college at the University of Missouri. He graduated in 2006 with a bachelor's in business administration, the school confirmed.