Philadelphia DA: No criminal charges in deadly Philadelphia Amtrak crash

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa.–The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday released the following statement announcing the conclusion of its investigation into the May 2015 Amtrak derailment:

“The District Attorney’s Office has completed its investigation into the Amtrak derailment at the Frankford Junction on May 12, 2015, in which eight people were killed and two hundred others were injured, many seriously. We extend our sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives and everyone who was affected by this tragedy.”

“Two senior members of the Homicide Unit worked closely with Philadelphia Police and Amtrak officials, including experienced train engineers. Both Assistant District Attorneys (ADA) consulted with officials of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and thoroughly reviewed the NTSB report. They rode in the cab of a train along the route leading to the scene of the derailment. The team reviewed the audio tapes of what the engineer said and heard before the derailment, and reviewed the engineer’s cell phone, cell phone records, and cell site data. Finally, the two senior Homicide ADAs consulted with experts in train operation.”

“The evidence indicates that the derailment was caused by the engineer operating the train far in excess of the speed limit.”

“However, we cannot conclude that the evidence rises to the high level necessary to charge the engineer or anyone else with a criminal offense. We have no evidence that the engineer acted with criminal “intent” or criminal “knowledge” within the special meaning of those terms under Pennsylvania law for purposes of criminal charges. Nor do we believe there is sufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, criminal recklessness, which would be the only other basis for criminal liability. Pennsylvania law specially states that one acts with criminal recklessness when a person “consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk.” Based on the available information, we do not have evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the engineer “consciously” disregarded the risk. We applied the law to the facts and reached this conclusion, which is specific to the criminal context. We of course offer no view on potential liability in other legal proceedings arising out of this incident.”

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