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Philadelphia Amtrak Crash: Conductor Felt 'Sudden Surge,' Lawyer Says

The derailment last week killed eight people and injured more than 200.
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A conductor on the Amtrak train that derailed last week remembers feeling a “sudden surge” before the crash, his lawyer said Tuesday.

The conductor, Emilio Fonseca, sued Amtrak on Monday for negligence. He broke his neck, his back and both shoulders and suffered head trauma in the derailment, said the lawyer, Bruce Nagel.

“There was a sudden surge, which he felt, and then the wreck occurred,” Nagel told reporters.

Fonseca’s life might have been spared because he was in the bathroom of the first car when the train jumped the tracks, Nagel said. The first car was mangled in the derailment, which killed eight people and injured more than 200.

Fonseca managed to crawl to safety and warn dazed passengers about downed power lines outside the train, he said.

Read more on the investigation from NBC Philadelphia

Nagel said that Fonseca is in critical condition and will probably stay in the hospital for weeks.

“We are hopeful that someday he will be able to ride the trains again, his first love, the passion of his life, but we are doubtful at this point,” the lawyer said.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Amtrak has said it does not comment on pending litigation.

The train, Amtrak 188 from Washington to New York, accelerated into a steep curve in Philadelphia and reached 106 mph, more than twice the speed limit on that section of track, investigators have said.

Brandon Bostian, the engineer who was injured in the derailment, has told investigators he does not remember the crash or the moments before.

Investigators said on Monday that they had found no evidence that a gunshot struck the train. They said they had not ruled out that it was struck by some other object.

An assistant conductor on the train told federal investigators last week that she thought she heard the engineer say that the train had been struck by something shortly before it ran off the tracks.


— Erin McClam