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NTSB: Amtrak Engineer Wasn't on Cellphone at Time of Crash

  • VOA News

FILE - Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train derailment in Philadelphia, May 13, 2015.

FILE - Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train derailment in Philadelphia, May 13, 2015.

The engineer driving an Amtrak train that derailed last month, killing eight people and injuring 200, did not appear to be using his cellphone at the time of the accident, federal investigators said Wednesday.

"Analysis of the phone records does not indicate that any calls, texts, or data usage occurred during the time the engineer was operating the train," the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in an update of the investigation of the May 12 derailment.

The NTSB also said Amtrak records confirm engineer Brandon Bostian didn't access the train's Wi-Fi system while he was operating the locomotive. Engineers aren't allowed to use phones while operating trains or preparing them for movement.

According to the investigation, the train accelerated to 170 kph (106 mph) in the last minute before entering a curve where the speed limit is 80 kph (50 mph). In the last few seconds the brakes were applied with maximum force, but the train was still traveling at over 160 kph (100 mph) when it left the tracks.

No mechanical problems found

Investigators said earlier they have not found any mechanical problems with the train, and the track had been inspected not long before the crash.

Bostian suffered a head injury in the crash, and his attorney has said he doesn't remember anything after the train pulled out of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, the last stop before the derailment.

The investigation of the accident continues.

NTSB said investigators are still trying to determine whether the phone was in "airplane mode" or was powered off. They have been examining the phone's operating system and are obtaining a cellphone identical to Bostian's and will be running tests "to validate the data," NTSB said.

Congress has pressed the safety board for answers to the key question of whether Bostian was using his phone at the time of the deadly crash.

Some material for this report came from AP and Reuters.

VIEW: Photos after May 12 derailment in Philadelphia