Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro will appeal a lower-court ruling that dismissed all criminal charges against Brandon Bostian, an Amtrak engineer involved in a fatal train derailment in Port Richmond.
Shapiro's notice of appeal was filed this week in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
Bostian, who is gay, had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and risking a catastrophe. But last month, after a four-hour preliminary hearing, Municipal Court Judge Thomas F. Gehret dismissed all charges against Bostian.
“We are seeking a legal determination based on the proper standard for a preliminary hearing," said Joseph Grace, a spokesperson for Shapiro.
Grace declined additional comment.
Attorneys Thomas R. Kline and Robert J. Mongeluzzi issued this statement on behalf of the victims:
"The victims of Amtrak 188 are gratified to see [Shapiro's] appeal of a ruling which we believe to have been fundamentally flawed given the standard for a preliminary hearing and the facts and circumstances of Mr. Bostian, the engineer, operating a train at 106 miles an hour in a 50-mile-an-hour zone, which caused so much human devastation and death."
In May 2015, Bostian was speeding on a dangerous curve in Port Richmond, causing a seven-car Amtrak train to jump the tracks and derail. Eight passengers were killed and more than 100 seriously injured.
The train originated in D.C. and was heading to New York City when the tragedy occurred.
A federal investigation concluded that Bostian apparently lost his bearings due to radio chatter involving a nearby SEPTA train. Authorities said he had no alcohol or drugs in his body and he hadn't been using his cell phone.
Bostian, 34, continues to be on unpaid administrative leave from his engineer position at Amtrak. His attorney, Brian McMonagle, couldn't be reached for comment.
In his civil suit against Amtrak, Bostian raises the possibility that "projectiles" were thrown directly at the train he was operating shortly before it derailed.