NTSB Amtrak Derailment Blamed On Radio Distraction

May 17, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Amtrak 188’s engineer was distracted by radio transmissions when it derailed and caused the death of several people. Engineer Brandon Bostian told investigators that before Amtrak 188’s derailment he was focused on a radio message explaining that a rock had shattered his windshield.

Amtrak 188 engineer distracted

Amtrak 188 engineer was distracted by a message about a windshield being shattered when it derailed, leaving eight people dead and over 200 injured.

In May 2015, Amtrak 188 derailed in Philadelphia while it was heading to New York.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into the accident discovered that for some unknown reason the train was going double the 50 mph limit around a sharp curve about 10 minutes after leaving Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

According to authorities, engineer Brandon Bostian was not intoxicated, was not high on drugs, and was not distracted by his cell phone. The investigators also looked into the possibility that the Amtrak train had been hit with a rock or other projectile minutes before the crash. So, why was he speeding?

Mr. Bostian was distracted by a radio traffic report that night from a commuter train operator, who said a rock had shattered his windshield. Bostian told investigators that the radio message made him feel:

“…concerned about the welfare of the passengers and a little bit concerned for his own safety. There’s been so many times where I’ve had reports of rocks that I haven’t seen anything, that I felt like it was unlikely that it would impact me… I figured whoever damaged the commuter train had probably left the area by the time I rolled through.”

It has been confirmed that trains operating in the Northeast are frequent targets of rock-throwing vandals. Several engineers reported being hit by rocks the evening of the horrific accident. Authorities discovered a grapefruit-sized dent in the windshield of Amtrak 188’s locomotive. Bostian has been suspended without pay since the crash for speeding. The investigation also found:

“…police transported many of the injured people to the hospital instead of waiting for ambulances, the official said. The NTSB is expected to recommend that engineers be retrained about distractions and recommend the city wait for ambulances to take injured people to the hospital at mass-casualty incidents.”

The city’s emergency management office quickly replied by saying that it will aim for better coordination with the fire department. The revelation of radio transmission distraction came one day before the National Transportation Safety Board is set to meet for a hearing to find the cause of the fatal derailment. The cause will not be determined officially until the board’s vote at the conclusion of that meeting.


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