Amtrak Engineer In Fatal Derailment Was Not Using His Phone, Says NTSB

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that the Amtrak engineer at the controls of the train that derailed last month in Philadelphia could not have been using his cell phone at the time of the crash, the New York Times is reporting.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, on May 12, an Amtrak train on its way from Washington, D.C., to New York derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring over 200. The train was traveling at 106 m.p.h. around a curve where the speed limit is 50 m.p.h.

Since the beginning of the investigation, investigators have focused on whether or not the Amtrak train's engineer, Brandon Bostian, was using his cell phone at the time of the crash -- perhaps making a phone call, or texting. Bostian has claimed, through his attorney, that he suffered a concussion during the crash and remembers nothing of it. The engineer has claimed he remembers waking up, finding his cell phone in his bag, and dialing 911.

On Wednesday, the NTSB issued a statement, via CNN, that the engineer was not using his phone when the train derailed.

"Analysis of [Bostian's] phone records does not indicate that any calls, texts, or data usage occurred during the time the engineer was operating the train."
The statement also indicated that the engineer was not using the train's on-board WiFi at the time of the derailment, either.

Sifting through nearly half a million internal files on the engineer's phone, as well as cross-referencing where calls and texts were routed across the network -- with calls being routed through towers in one time zone and texts in another -- tied up investigators for weeks. And now that the engineer's cell phone use has been ruled out as a possible cause of the derailment, frustrated investigators are left with little else to go on.

Amtrak trains are equipped with cameras in the engineer's compartment, but those cameras face out, not in, meaning that investigators have no video evidence of what was going on in the cab at the time of the derailment. Amtrak is set to begin installing cameras facing inward into their trains' cabs.

Moving forward, Amtrak has made some changes along the curve where the May derailment took place. More speed limit signs will be added along that stretch of track, and trains will be equipped with on-board technology that automatically applies the brakes if they are approaching that particular curve too fast.

[Image courtesy of Getty Images / Win McNamee]