PHILADELPHIA (AP) — As federal investigators try to find out why an Amtrak train that crashed in Philadelphia sped up in the last minute before it derailed, Amtrak’s top official said the railroad takes full responsibility for the deadly wreck.
Joseph Boardman, Amtrak president and CEO, said in a letter on Amtrak’s official blog Thursday that it is cooperating fully in an investigation into the accident that killed eight people and injured more than 200 this week.
“With truly heavy hearts, we mourn those who died. Their loss leaves holes in the lives of their families and communities,” Boardman wrote. “Amtrak takes full responsibility and deeply apologizes for our role in this tragic event.”
He said the railroad’s goal is “to fully understand what happened and how we can prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future.”
Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday that in the last minute or so before the derailment, the Washington-to-New York train sped up from 70 mph until it reached more than 100 mph at a sharp bend where the maximum speed is supposed to be 50 mph.
Board member Robert Sumwalt said it’s unclear whether the speed was increased manually by engineer Brandon Bostian.
So far, investigators have found no problems with the track, the signals or the locomotive, and the train was running on time, Sumwalt said.
Bostian refused to talk to police on Wednesday, authorities said. But on Thursday, Sumwalt said that Bostian had agreed to be interviewed by the NTSB and that the meeting would take place in the next few days.
Leadership and laughter: Life of Naval Academy midshipman celebrated
WASHINGTON - Those who knew Justin Zemser best - his coach, friends and rabbi - described him as a driven young man who loved to make others laugh and who was a natural leader.
"They called him Z - I don't know many other people who can go by one letter and get away with it," said Rabbi Lt. Josh Sherwin.
Zemser, 20 of Rockaway Beach, New York, was among those killed when an Amtrak trained derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night. He was a sophomore at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. There, he was a member of the Jewish Midshipman Club, for which he was to be vice president next year, and a member of the sprint football team.
During a club trip to Israel this spring, Zemser forgot to bring a change purse to carry the small coins that are common in Israel. He ended up using a bright, floral Vera Bradley coin purse, proudly attaching it to the outside of his backpack coupled with a "weird" hat, Sherwin recounted.
"That was him. He was out there making people smile, making people laugh. Representing who he was. Being active Jewishly. Working out. Driving people to be their best. That'll be a huge loss to the Jewish Midshipman Club, to the brigade, to our family," Sherwin said.
Zemser's football coach, Maj. Kavan Lake, said he expected that Zemser would want to become a Navy Seal.
Members of the sprint football team are typically smaller than the average football player and have a chip on their shoulder that pushes them to work harder. Many go on to become Marines or to join the elite Seal squads.
"Justin was no different," Lake said.
His friends said they always worked hard in the gym because they knew Zemser would spend more time lifting or running.
"Forever, I'm just going to think, 'What would Justin do'," one of them said.
Naval Academy officials pointed to Zemser's leadership, saying he had returned to the school's campus this week to help run an intense training day for freshman. The test begins at 3 a.m. and lasts all day.
He was returning home when the speeding train derailed, killing six others and injuring more than 200 people on board.
From Amtrak May 13, 6:55 p.m.:
On Thursday, May 14, riders should expect fewer Amtrak trains to run between D.C. and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston.
There will be no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton.
Amtrak officials said Thursday that riders should expect service disruptions through Monday. Full service service could be restored by Tuesday.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In the moment the Amtrak train that derailed at a curve this week was supposed to be slowing down, it was accelerating, investigators said Thursday.
How that came to happen has emerged as the central question surrounding the derailment, which killed eight people and sent more than 200 to hospitals Tuesday night in the nation’s deadliest train wreck in nearly six years.
In the minute or so before the crash, the train sped up from 70 mph until it reached more than 100 mph at a sharp bend where the maximum speed is supposed to be 50 mph, National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said. It’s unclear, Sumwalt said, whether the speed was increased manually by engineer Brandon Bostian, who grew up obsessed with trains.
Investigators have found no problems with the track, signals or locomotive. Sumwalt said the train, on a route from Washington to New York City, was on time as it left the station in Philadelphia a few minutes before the crash.
Investigators want to know why the train was going so fast. But Bostian refused to talk to police on Wednesday, authorities said. On Thursday, Sumwalt said Bostian had agreed to be interviewed by the NTSB and the meeting will take place in the next few days.