Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian has long posted online rants about the lack of rail safety systems like the “positive train control” that critics say could have prevented the Philadelphia derailment — which happened with Bostian at the train’s controls.
The engineer who was behind the controls of an Amtrak train that derailed going around a curve at 100 mph is a lifelong train buff who’s written online about the need for better rail safety, it was reported Thursday.
Brandon Bostian, writing on website Trainorders.com, criticized railroads for not installing “positive train control” systems to prevent crashes, the New York Times reported.
“At any point over the previous EIGHTY years the railroad could have voluntarily implemented some form of this technology,” Bostian wrote in 2011, according to the Times. “I wish the railroads had been more proactive in adopting active signaling systems from the get-go.”
The “reality is that they have had nearly a hundred years of opportunity to implement SOME sort of system to mitigate human error, but with a few notable exceptions have failed to do so,” he continued.
Experts say such a system could have prevented Tuesday night’s deadly crash.
The International Business Times cited another one of Bostian’s forum chats in 2009, where he warned of the perils of having an overtired crew.
“Everyone wants an extension to hours of service to avoid inconvenience, but what will you say when the crew that’s been on duty for longer than 12 hours accidentally falls asleep and passes a stop signal and rear-ends a loaded hazmat train, killing dozens or hundreds of people?” Bostian wrote.
The Queens man, who worked as a cashier at Target before landing a gig as a conductor with Amtrak in 2006, was a prolific poster on the site, and had been for several years. A childhood friend of Bostian told the New York Times that his pal was “an unabashed nerd” who had pictures of trains plastered all over his bedrooms walls when they were growing up together outside Memphis.
“When you heard the name ‘Brandon Bostian,’ the first thing you would think is trains,” Allen said.
On Thursday, Bostian’s lawyer, Robert Goggin, told ABC his client’s thoughts now were with the victims of the train crash.
“The main concern is just the overwhelming tragedy, the loss of life, the injuries to so many people,” Goggin said. “That’s really the concern right now. That’s his concern.”
The “reality is that they have had nearly a hundred years of opportunity to implement SOME sort of system to mitigate human error, but with a few notable exceptions have failed to do so,” Bostian reportedly wrote online.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said Bostian had been in the front car of the train when it went hurtling off the track.
“That car we believe tumbled over and over numerous times,” Nutter said Thursday.
Goggin said his client was “pretty beat up.”
“He’s got 14 staples in his head, several stitches in his leg. He has one leg, the other leg immobilized with a knee problem,” the lawyer told “Good Morning America.”
Goggin denied police claims that Bostian had refused to be interviewed, and said he’d cooperated fully and would continue to do so — he just doesn’t have much to say.
“As a result of his concussion, he has absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the events,” the lawyer said, adding that Bostian told him he didn’t have any prior health issues, wasn’t on any medication and that his phone was zipped up in his bag at the time of the crash.
He said Bostian had consented to a blood test and handed his phone over to investigators voluntarily.
While Bostian himself remained mum and out of sight, his friends and co-workers took to his Facebook page to offer their support.
Brandon Bostian, the engineer behind Tuesday’s derailed Amtrak train, apparently was passionate about other things besides rail safety.
“Every day we hold lives in our hands — 99.9% of the time it goes unappreciated and taken for granted. Yes, it happened to you but it could have been any one of us and you are not alone,” wrote one.
The Memphis native had worked as an Amtrak engineer for four years.
He started working for the railroad after getting a business management degree at the University of Missouri in 2006.
His first job was as an assistant conductor on the railway’s Chicago-St. Louis route, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
He also spent a brief amount of time in California, working for Caltrain in San Francisco, NBC Bay Area reported. The railway had a contract with Amtrak at the time.
Bostian moved to New York some time before 2012, when he was quoted in the Midtown Gazette speaking out in favor of marriage equality.
“It’s kind of insulting to have to beg people for my right to marry,” he was quoted as saying. “I feel like we shouldn’t even have to have this fight.”
Neighbors and the super at his Forest Hills, Queens, apartment described him as pleasant and easygoing, and someone who loved his job.
“He’s nice,” super Jose Quinones told the Daily News. “I’m really surprised.It’s crazy to be driving a train like that.”
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