Seven passengers lost their lives Tuesday night in Philadelphia after Amtrak Train 188 derailed and crashed as it was taking a sharp turn going over the speed limit. Federal investigators have now uncovered the black box from the wreckage to determine if the train hit 100 mph.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Amtrak train with 243 passengers on board and five crew members was en route from Washington, D.C., to New York when the engineer, Brandon Bostian of Queens, New York, failed to travel at 50 mph.
When he noticed a curve ahead, Bostian applied the emergency brakes, but it was too late. After taking a sharp turn going over the speed limit, the Amtrak train derailed and crashed at 9:21 p.m. Tuesday, the Washington Post reports.
“It takes a long time to decelerate a train,” NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt stated. “You’re supposed to enter the curve at 50 miles per hour. Had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”
“When the engineer-induced braking was applied, the train was traveling at approximately 106 miles per hour. Three seconds later [when the train crashed], the speed was 102.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done and will be done. Could the speed alone have caused this crash? That’s certainly part of the analysis, that’s exactly what we want to find out. Why did this train derail?”
More than 200 people were injured during the train crash and were taken to Temple University Hospital for treatment, but seven people were killed.
Among those who were killed were 39-year-old AprenNet chief executive Rachel Jacobs, Justin Zemzer, 20, architect Jim Gaines, 48, Wells Fargo executive Abid Gilani, 55, and three others whose names have not been identified.
“There were lots and lots of patients who had rib injuries,” said the chief medical officer at Temple University Hospital, Herbert Cushing. “The rib fractures tell me they rattled around in the train a lot.”
People who took the train on a day-to-day basis were devastated by the tragedy. Vice President Joe Biden stated that “Amtrak is like a second family to me, as it is for so many other passengers.”
“For my entire career, I’ve made the trip from Wilmington to Washington and back. I’ve come to know the conductors, engineers, and other regulars – men and women riding home to kiss their kids goodnight – as we passed the flickering lights of each neighborhood along the way.”
Engineers have stated there was no indication that the train derailed and crashed due to mechanical issues, which is why their only guess is that it was going over the speed limit as it took a sharp turn.
After investigators uncovered the black box from the train wreckage, it was determined that the Amtrak train was traveling at 106 mph as it took a sharp curve.
As of now, the passenger rail services in the Northeast Corridor in the Philadelphia area, as well as the commuter rail services, have been suspended until further notice.
[Image courtesy of Win Mcnamee/Getty Images]