Brandon Bostian, a 32-year-old from Queens, N.Y., has been identified as the engineer for the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia, killing seven people and injuring more than 200.
Bostian’s lawyer, the Center City-based defense attorney Robert Goggin, told ABC’s Nightline that his client has no recollection of the crash, and was “very distraught” to learn that people had been killed when the train flew off the tracks Tuesday night near Port Richmond.
“He remembers driving the train,” Goggin told Nightline. “He remembers going to that area generally, [but] has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual. He recalls — the next thing he recalls is being thrown around, coming to, finding his bag, getting his cell phone and dialing 911.”
Reports suggest Bostian has given little information to police and investigators, though National Transportation Safety Board officials have confirmed the train was operating at speeds around 106 mph heading into a curve with a posted speed limit of 50 mph. NTSB official Robert Sumwalt said the emergency brakes were activated, but they did little good in slowing the train.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was less tame with his remarks, appearing Wednesday on CNN’s Situation Room to discuss reports that the train had been running late and Bostian had sped up to make up for lost time. Nutter said “you’d almost have to be an idiot” to do that, and called Bostian’s actions “reckless.” The NTSB wasn’t happy with Nutter’s comments.
Little information has emerged about Bostian, other than what can be gleaned from Internet searches and public-facing social media profiles, like his Facebook page which he updated at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday (four hours after the crash) to change his profile picture to a black box.
Bostian hasn’t made any public comments on his Facebook, but several friends have commented on his profile photo change with messages of support.
It appears the train engineer is originally from Memphis, Tenn., was a 2001 graduate of Bartlett High School and went on to study business administration at the University of Missouri. According to his LinkedIn, he was a member of Acacia Fraternity in college and became a passenger conductor with Amtrak in 2006 after a year-long stint as a cashier at Target. He became an engineer in 2010.
There is a difference between conductors and engineers — it appears that, based on Amtrak’s definitions, the engineer is more responsible for the technical aspect and for actually operating the locomotive consist.
Bostian was photographed in 2007 by the St. Louis Dispatch and was identified as an “assistant conductor” at the time.
Bostian, was identified as a “recent” New York transplant in a 2012 story about the campaign for marriage equality in The Midtown Gazette, a small Manhattan news organization, where it was reported that Bostian was active in the Proposition 8 fight in San Francisco.
“It’s kind of insulting to have to beg people for my right to marry,” he told Midtown Gazette. “I feel like we shouldn’t even have to have this fight.”