The FBI will examine the windshield and front end of the Amtrak train involved in the deadly derailment that killed eight people this week after the train’s crew reported that it may have been hit by a projectile, the National Transportation Security Board said Friday.
NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said the FBI was brought in after investigators interviewed three of the train’s crew members, including engineer Brandon Bostian.
Mr. Sumwalt said Mr. Bostian was “extremely cooperative” but didn’t remember anything after passing the North Philadelphia station, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. Investigators must work with Mr. Bostian to determine why the train was traveling at 106 mph on a 50 mph curve with it crashed.
Mr. Sumwalt said that Mr. Bostian said he last remembered ringing the train’s bell while passing through the North Philadelphia station but said “he has no recollection of anything past that,” The Journal reported.
Mr. Bostian’s lawyer has said that his client suffered a concussion in the crash and said Mr. Bostian had not been using his cell phone and had not been drinking or using drugs.
Mr. Sumwalt said a conductor aboard the train reported hearing a conversation in which the engineer of a nearby local regional train said that his engine had been hit by an object or shot at and she thought she heard her engineer say the same thing happened to their train.
Right after that conversation the conductor said she felt rumbling, followed by the train car turning over on its side, The Journal reported.
Mr. Sumwalt said his team has “seen damage to the left hand lower portion of the Amtrak windshield” and has asked the FBI to look at it, the newspaper reported.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) spokeswoman Jerri Williams told the Philadelphia Inquirer at the time of the accident that a Trenton, N.J.—bound commuter train had been struck by an “unknown projectile” around 9:10 p.m., breaking the engineer’s window. The Amtrak train derailed at 9:30 p.m. about three miles away.
SEPTA does not yet know what the object was that caused damage to its train that night, Ms. Williams said.
It is not unusual for SEPTA trains to be hit by projectiles, as they travel through some of the poorest and most violent parts of the city where vandals and teenagers throw objects at the trains. But it was unusual that the SEPTA train was forced to stop on Tuesday night, The Wall Street Journal reported.