Scholar: Options remain after order to charge train engineer

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia in 2015.

Earlier in the week, the district attorney's office announced the speed of the train was responsible for the derailment but evidence was inconclusive that the train operator should be charged with a criminal offense.

The state's attorney general has a wide range of options in responding to a judge's order to arrest a speeding Amtrak engineer involved in a deadly 2015 crash, a law professor said Friday.

Criminal charges were filed Friday against a USA passenger train driver for the 2015 derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured more than 200.

The city quickly referred the prosecution to the state attorney general Thursday to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

The attorney general's office is reportedly reviewing the judge's order and will have the chance to appeal.

The National Transportation Board determined that the derailment was caused by human error and that Bostian was distracted and had lost situational awareness.

While local prosecutors declined to press charges, Pennsylvania law allows for private criminal complaints to be filed.

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Each misdemeanor charge carries a maximum five-year sentence.

Following that announcement, attorneys representing victims of the crash demanded the criminal case be reopened Attorneys asked the Office of the District Attorney to accept a private criminal complaint filed by the husband and father of Rachel Jacobs, a Philadelphia mother killed in the crash, according to The Inquirer.

But at a Thursday news conference, lawyer Richard A. Sprague, a former Philadelphia first assistant district attorney who went to court seeking the order from Neifield, likened Bostian's conduct to that of a motorist who killed pedestrians while speeding through Center City. Bostian had accelerated the train to 106 miles per hour, more than twice the speed limit, just as it entered the Frankford Junction curve.

NTSB investigators say they found no evidence the Amtrak engineer was using alcohol, drugs or a cell phone. The federal organization focused on a radio conversation between Bostian, a dispatcher and a SEPTA Regional Rail engineer who claimed rocks were being thrown at his auto around Frankford Junction, where Bostian's train was traveling.

The train derailed and crashed at about 9:20 p.m., killing eight passengers and injuring over 200.

The train had left Philadelphia minutes before, heading toward NY.

Bostian has told investigators that he does not remember much about the moments before the wreck.

Amtrak took responsibility for the crash and has since installed an automatic braking system on its Northeast Corridor rails that would have prevented the derailment.