A case out of Pennsylvania bookends with the case of R v Harding (2018) about which I wrote the other day.
On 12 May 2015 Brandon Bostian was the engineer on a train from Washington to New York. The train entered a bend in the line at 106 mph (170 kph). This was more than double the speed limit. The train derailed, injuring 150 passengers and killing eight. A government investigation found that Bostian was not affected by alcohol or drugs and was not using a cellphone. It concluded that he had lost his bearings while distracted by operational radio communications.
The family of one of the deceased brought a private prosecution against Bostian for (inter alia) involuntary manslaughter. Pennsylvania law states that –
A person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of … the doing of a lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, he causes the death of another person.
The charges were dismissed by the Philadelphia Municipal Court. The Attorney-General appealed to the Court of Common Pleas. On 6 February 2018 Lewis J reversed the Municipal Court’s decision, finding that there was sufficient evidence for Bostian to be presented for trial. It appears a trial date has not yet been set.
Commonwealth v Bostian (2018), Philadelphia Inquirer, 6 February 2018 and Register Citizen (Torrington, CT), 6 February 2018.