Body of 8th victim found in Amtrak derailment wreckage
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The death toll from the Amtrak wreck rose to eight with the discovery of another body in a mangled railcar Thursday, while a lawyer for the train's engineer said his client has no recollection of the crash and wasn't on his cellphone or using drugs or alcohol.
A cadaver dog found the eighth body in the wreckage of the first passenger car Thursday morning, nearly 36 hours after the crash, Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said.
Officials believe they have now accounted for all 243 passengers and five crew members who were thought to be aboard the train, Mayor Michael Nutter said.
Amtrak's president says Northeast Corridor service to be fully restored Monday or Tuesday.
Meanwhile, lawyer Robert Goggin told ABC News that the engineer, Brandon Bostian, 32, of New York, suffered a concussion in Tuesday night's wreck and had 14 staples in his head, along with stitches in one leg.
Federal investigators have determined that the train was barreling through the city at 106 mph before it ran off the rails along a sharp curve where the speed limit drops to just 50 mph. But they don't know why it was going so fast.
"He remembers coming into curve. He remembers attempting to reduce speed and thereafter he was knocked out," Goggin said. He said Bostian does not recall using the emergency brake, which investigators said was applied moments before the crash.
The lawyer said the last thing the engineer remembered was coming to, looking for his bag, retrieving his cellphone and calling 911 for help. He said the engineer's cellphone was off and stored in his bag before the accident, as required.
"As a result of his concussion, he has absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the events," Goggin said. He said he believes the engineer's memory will probably return once the head injury subsides.
Goggin said that his client "cooperated fully" with police and immediately consented to a blood test. He said he had not been drinking or doing drugs. Police had said on Wednesday that the engineer had refused to give a statement to law enforcement.
Robert Sumwalt of the National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday that federal accident investigators want to talk to him but will give him a day or two to recover from the shock of the accident.
Goggin said his client was distraught when he learned of the devastation.
The engineer hit the emergency brakes moments before the crash but slowed the train to only 102 mph by the time the locomotive's black box stopped recording data, according to Sumwalt. The speed limit just before the bend is 80 mph, he said.
Sumwalt said a data recorder and a video camera in the train's front end could yield clues to what happened. Amtrak inspected the stretch of track on Tuesday, just hours before the accident, and found no defects, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Sumwalt said the engineer applied the emergency brakes moments before the crash but slowed the train to only 102 mph by the time the locomotive's black box stopped recording data. The speed limit just before the bend is 80 mph, he said.
Mayor Michael Nutter said the engineer was clearly "reckless and irresponsible."
"Part of the focus has to be, what was the engineer doing?" Nutter said. "Why are you traveling at that rate of speed?"
Within hours of the wreck, Bostian changed his Facebook profile picture to a black rectangle. Friends who seemingly knew about his role in the crash before his name publicly surfaced rallied to his side.
"Hold your head up," wrote a Facebook friend whose profile identifies him as an Amtrak engineer living in California. "Yes, it happened to you but it could have been any one of us and you are not alone."
Bostian was an Amtrak conductor for four years before becoming an engineer in December 2010, according to his LinkedIn profile. The Tennessee native graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor's degree in business administration and management in 2006, the university said.
More than 200 people aboard the Washington-to-New York train were injured in the wreck, which happened in a decayed industrial neighborhood not far from the Delaware River just before 9:30 p.m.
Passengers crawled out the windows of the torn and toppled rail cars in the darkness and emerged dazed and bloody. Many of the victims had broken ribs and other fractures. At least 10 people remained hospitalized in critical condition on Wednesday.
It was the nation's deadliest train accident in nearly six years. There is no Amtrak service between Philadelphia and New York again on Thursday.
Despite pressure from Congress and safety regulators, Amtrak had not installed along that section of track Positive Train Control, a technology that uses GPS, wireless radio and computers to prevent trains from going over the speed limit. Most of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor is equipped with Positive Train Control.
"Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred," Sumwalt said.
The notoriously tight curve is not far from the site of one of the deadliest train wrecks in U.S. history: the 1943 derailment of the Congressional Limited, bound from Washington to New York. Seventy-nine people were killed.
The dead in Tuesday's crash included an Associated Press employee, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, a Wells Fargo executive, a college administrator and the CEO of an educational startup.
Nutter said some people were unaccounted for but cautioned that some passengers listed on the Amtrak manifest might not have boarded the train, while others might not have checked in with authorities.
"We will not cease our efforts until we go through every vehicle," the mayor said.
Amtrak carries 11.6 million passengers a year along its busy Northeast Corridor, which runs between Washington and Boston.
Jillian Jorgensen was seated in the second passenger car and said the train was going "fast enough for me to be worried" when it began to lurch to the right. Then the lights went out, and Jorgensen was thrown from her seat.
She said she "flew across the train" and landed under some seats that had apparently broken loose from the floor.
Jorgensen, a reporter for The New York Observer who lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, said she wriggled free as fellow passengers screamed. She saw one man lying still, his face covered in blood, and a woman with a broken leg.
She climbed out an emergency exit window, and a firefighter helped her down a ladder to safety.
"It was terrifying and awful, and as it was happening it just did not feel like the kind of thing you could walk away from, so I feel very lucky," Jorgensen said in an email.
Among the dead were award-winning AP video software architect Jim Gaines, a father of two; Justin Zemser, a Naval Academy midshipman from New York City; Abid Gilani, a senior vice president in Wells Fargo's commercial real estate division in New York; Derrick Griffith, dean of student affairs and enrollment management at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York; and Rachel Jacobs, who was commuting home to New York from her new job as CEO of the Philadelphia educational software startup ApprenNet.