PHILADELPHIA/NEW YORK - A portrait of the engineer at the helm of a speeding Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia began to emerge on Thursday as the man's lawyer said his client could not remember the crash, and rescuers pulled an eighth body from the wreckage.
With the engineer facing intense scrutiny over his role in the accident, Philadelphia police said they launched a criminal investigation into Tuesday's crash of the New York-bound train. The locomotive and all seven cars jumped the tracks while barreling into a curve at more than 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour), twice the speed limit.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the engineer, identified as Brandon Bostian, 32, fully engaged the train's emergency braking system seconds before the wreck.
But his attorney, Robert Goggin, said Bostian was unable to recall hitting the brakes or much else about the derailment, which left a trail of twisted metal and human carnage along the tracks, and injured more than 200 people.
NTSB member Robert Sumwalt, updating reporters on the board's probe into the cause of the wreck, said the engineer has agreed to be interviewed by agency investigators, who were giving him a day or two to recuperate from his injuries first, and that he was entitled to be accompanied by his lawyer.
"We look very much forward to the opportunity to interview him. We appreciate that opportunity. We feel that interview will provide us a lot of information," Sumwalt said.
While Bostian recovered in seclusion, bits and pieces about his life started to surface. A University of Missouri graduate with a business degree, he has been an engineer for more than four years after working with Amtrak as a conductor, according to his LinkedIn page. While in college, he worked in a Target Corp store.
Bostian, who hails from Memphis, Tennessee, was described as quiet and unassuming by people who crossed his path in Forest Hills, a middle-class section of Queens where he resides.
Jose Quinones, 65, the superintendent of the large brick building where Bostian makes his home, said he was an easy-going tenant who had lived there for two or three years. While polite, Bostian mostly kept to himself, Quinones said.
He said he was shocked to learn Bostian was involved in the derailment. "I didn't know he had that kind of job," he said.
Three workers at the nearby Gloria Pizza shop said Bostian was a regular customer.
"He comes in once or twice a week and orders a slice," said a man named Tony, who did not want to give his last name. "He's a nice guy, polite."