A judge with the Philadelphia Municipal Court sent down orders to prosecutors on Thursday, May 11, requiring that they file criminal charges against a former Amtrak engineer. It's widely believed that the speed at which he was operating the train on May 12, 2015, was responsible for the train's derailment. The accident killed eight and and injured nearly 200.
The May 11th order was made just one day before the statute of limitations window for filing charges in the case was set to close. The district attorney with the city now must file both reckless endangerment and involuntary manslaughter charges against the former train conductor.
Just days before the judge's ruling, the prosecutors in the case had informed the judge that they would not be pursuing criminal charges against the man. They highlighted how they believed they would have difficulty in showing that the engineer consciously disregarded the safety of passengers by accelerating the train from 50 to 106 mph at a dangerous curve in the tracks.
Coincidentally, Philadelphia's sitting district attorney who rendered that decision is currently awaiting his own trail on suspicion of federal bribery charges.
After hearing of their decision, victims' families and their attorneys announced that they would collectively be seeking to file a grievance against the prosecutor's office for what they alleged was a decision made in poor taste. If the prosecution neglects to move forward in trying the case, the matter could be appealed to a Superior Court judge next.
Federal investigators had originally determined that the conductor had merely lost sight of where he was, including that he was coming into a dangerous turn, at the time the derailment occurred. It's believed that he had been distracted by news that another train before him had been damaged by a rock.
If charges are ultimately upheld and the former train engineer is convicted of the charges waged against him, then could face as much as a five year sentence for each misdemeanor count alone.
Drivers of public buses, conductors of trains, and pilots of planes all share the responsibility of keeping their passengers safe. If you suspect that a loved one's injuries or death was caused by another's reckless driving or some other type of negligence, a New York motor vehicle accident attorney can advise you of your rights as it relates to pursuing a civil lawsuit against them.
Source: ABC News, "Judge orders prosecutors to charge Amtrak engineer in crash," Maryland's Dale, May 11, 2017