One Year Later: Amtrak Train 188 survivor recounts derailment

PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) One year ago, Amtrak Train 188 from Washington to New York derailed in Port Richmond, Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200 others.

FOX 29'S Dave Schratwieser spoke with a survivor. 

"I've got a 15-month-old granddaughter. I can't pick her up and hold her. I can't play with her."

Bob Hewett has spent the last year courageously fighting through the catastrophic injuries he suffered when he was thrown from Amtrak Train 188 after it careened off the tracks last May.

"I have pain 24/7. I have problems breathing almost my entire rib cage was shattered. It didn't heal properly," Hewett said.

"It was horrible to see him in a coma and to bring my kids there to see that," recalled Hewett's wife, Judy.

FOX 29 first met the 58-year-old Hewett last November while he was recovering at home from 23 fractured ribs, a lacerated kidney and a collapsed lung. He spent 7 weeks in a medically induced coma, 10 weeks on dialysis and months in rehab. When we met Bob Hewett again Thursday, he was still wondering why Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian has not been charged criminally in the crash.

"His actions took eight lives, dozens, hundreds of others are impacted by it," Hewett explained.

Investigators say Bostian wasn't texting, emailing or talking on his cell phone. As FOX 29 first reported, he wasn't drunk or on drugs either based on toxicology tests . He was simply driving the train twice the speed limit.

"He changed our lives. There's no reason why he was going that fast," Judy Hewett added, wiping away tears.
Seconds before the fatal crash of Amtrak 188, the NTSB has said Bostian was frantically trying to slow the train down. He was quickly approaching that big left hand curve where the speed was 50 miles per hour.

"It is not enough to say Mr. Bostian lost situational awareness end quote. People want to know why he did what he did," said attorney Tom Kline who represents many of the crash victims and their families..

Why Bostian was traveling so fast. Why he didn't slow down earlier and exactly what happened in the seconds leading up to the crash are still a mystery. The NTSB is set to release the results of it's year long investigation May 17 at a public hearing in Washington . The district attorney and police are still investigating. Bostian isn't talking, except to say he doesn't remember.

"Mr. Bostian actions that day not only derailed the train. it derailed lives," added Hewett's attorney Robert Mongeluzzi.

Attorneys Tom Kline and Robert Mongeluzzi represent many of the families of the 8 passengers who were killed and the 200 passengers who were injured on Amtrak 188.

"We see a devastating tragedy which will reshape for the worse the lives of many people and many families," Kline said

"It's been a long road and they wonder if it's ever going to get better," Hewett's lawyer added.

The lawsuits against Amtrak are moving through the court system. Lawyers expect the damages to reach $295 million dollars, the federal cap for damages in train crashes. In the meantime, Hewett, his wife and daughter Emily came to Philadelphia Thursday hoping to deliver a thank you to the first responders in this picture seen carrying Hewett from the crash site.

"I'm just very grateful," Hewett said tearfully.

"Thank you for saving him. Without them finding him so quickly, them doing all they did. He wouldn't be here," said Hewett's daughter, Emily.

Bob Hewett says he still suffers from post traumatic stress and has nightmares about the crash. He has multiple appointments with his doctors every month and he's anxiously awaiting the outcome of the criminal investigation. The district attorney's office meanwhile says its still investigating and would not answer any specific questions about the investigation or when it might be concluded.

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