Who Are The Amtrak Conductor & Engineer Involved In The Philadelphia Train Crash?

On Tuesday night, an Amtrak train bound for New York massively derailed in Philadelphia, reportedly killing at least eight people and injuring more than 200. It's one of the worst train accidents in recent memory, and it's spurred a lot of investigation, speculation, and even a bit of politicization. There's a value in sticking to the facts, though, so here's a straightforward question: What is known about the Amtrak engineer and conductor of the crashed train?

It's surely going to be a topic of discussion going forward. The train's data recorder was reportedly discovered on Wednesday morning, just as often happens in the aftermath of plane crashes. The contents of that recorder will likely tell more of the tale than we could possibly determine right now, as there's still a whole lot of information we just don't know — not everyone is even accounted for yet, for one thing.

But there is a narrow amount of information available about the train's conductor and engineer, both of whom survived the crash (although the conductor, according to Philly.com, sustained a serious injury). Here's precisely what we know about the pair so far, and just as importantly, what we don't yet know.

The Conductor

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First, a little note for anybody who's a newcomer to these terms — there's a very popular misconception about the meanings of the words "conductor" and "engineer." Namely, the word "conductor" is often associated with the person controlling the train, which is wrong. That's the engineer. The conductor is the person who manages the train, scanning tickets and tending to safety and passenger matters.

In this case, the news sounds pretty dire. Based on reports from ABC News and the Philadelphia Inquirer, the conductor of the train is currently in critical condition at a Philadelphia hospital, having sustained a skull fracture. We don't know the conductor's name yet, however.

The Engineer

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There's a bit more information available about the train's engineer. According to ABC News, it's Brandon Bostian, a 32-year-old from New York. He reportedly received several head staples at a hospital following the crash. ABC News' sources referred to Bostian as a "seasoned operator" who had traveled the route before, but he reportedly hasn't answered any questions from the authorities yet, allegedly insisting on having a lawyer present.

This doesn't mean that Bostian is at fault in the incident. Given all the responsibility of helming a passenger train, it's not surprising that he'd want to lawyer up ahead of an on-the-record talk with law enforcement.

Whatever answers he ultimately gives could prove crucial, though. According to The New York Times, among others, it's been determined by federal authorities at the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) that the train was moving at a speed of more than 100 miles per hour, which is more than twice the speed limit for the turn, when it hit a curve in the track and derailed.

Obviously, that's the main thing we don't know in all this: Why was the train going that fast? It's clearly difficult to say, but hopefully that black box will help piece together the puzzle.

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