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Amtrak Engineer Was Not on Cell Phone When Train Crashed in Philadelphia

NTSB authorities continue to investigate the exact causes of the accident that left seven dead and more than 200 injured, including the train's engineer.
June 10, 2015, 6:14pm
Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

Federal investigators looking into the fatal Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May and trying to determine if the train's engineer was distracted by a call or message have said that the man driving the train was not on his cell phone at the time of the crash, as previous reports had suggested.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that their analysis of phone records has revealed that Brandon Bostian had not been using his cell phone for any calls, texts, or data at all while he had been operating the train. Amtrak records also showed Bostian had not accessed the train's Wi-Fi network while driving the train.

NTSB is still working "to determine whether the phone was in "airplane mode" or was powered off," it said in a statement.

"Investigators in the NTSB laboratory in Washington have been examining the phone's operating system, which contains more than 400,000 files of meta-data," the statement added. "Investigators are obtaining a phone identical to the engineer's phone as an exemplar model and will be running tests to validate the data."

Related: Amtrak Train was Belting Along the Tracks at Twice the Speed Limit When It Derailed

Bostian willingly allowed investigators to access his records and cell phone passcode to assist in their analysis. The engineer, who was also among more than 200 injured in the crash, told NTSB officials he did not remember the accident or events leading up to it. His attorney said that Bostian only remembers "coming to, finding his bag, getting his cellphone and dialing 911."

Eight died in the May 12 crash.

At the time that the locomotive derailed, it was reportedly cruising along the tracks at twice the speed limit it was supposed to, authorities said after the accident occurred at around 9:30pm.

Investigators said the train was traveling 106 mph at the time of the crash. The legal speed along that curve is 50 mph, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

The route is part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, the busiest stretch of railroad in North America, which comprises 363 miles of track that links Washington to Boston. Each day it carries more than three times more people between the US capital and New York City than planes do.

The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled House passed legislation Tuesday to cut Amtrak's budget by $242 million. New funding was added, however, for video cameras inside locomotive cabs to record engineers. Amtrak announced the new plan to install the cameras, which has been delayed for years, last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.