A conductor on the Amtrak train that derailed outside of Philadelphia told investigators that she remembers hearing the train's engineer "say something about his train being struck by something" to a different train's engineer.
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The Amtrak engineer, identified earlier this week as Brandon Bastion, met with National Transportation Safety Board investigators today and he was "extremely cooperative," NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said this evening.
Bastion told investigators that the last thing he remembered happening before the crash was ringing the train bell as he passed through the North Philadelphia train stop. He did not mention anything about his alleged radio conversation with a local Philadelphia train engineer.
Sumwalt said that the conversation was brought to light during an interview with one of the Amtrak train's three conductors who was on board at the time of the crash. That conductor told investigators that she overheard the conversation between the two engineers on her portable radio just moments before the train derailed.
"Right after she recalled hearing this conversation between her engineer and the SEPTA engineer, she felt rumbling and her car went over on its side," Sumwalt said.
The unnamed 39-year-old conductor said that she heard the other engineer, who was at the controls of one of the city's SEPTA mass transit trains, who radioed in saying that he believed "he had been either hit by a rock or shot at," prompting Bastion to respond and say that he believed something similar had happened to his train.
Sumwalt said that they are going to further investigate her report that she overheard him saying that the train had been struck.
"We have seen damage to the left hand lower portion of the Amtrak windshield that we have asked the FBI to come in and look at for us," Sumwalt said.
SEPTA is cooperating with the NTSB's request to interview their train engineer, officials said. A date has not been set yet for the interview.
The NTSB announced Thursday that they were able to determine that the train accelerated more than 35 mph in the final 65 seconds before the crash. The train's forward facing camera recorded the speed but investigators were not able to determine why it was accelerating at that point or if the engineer was actively raising the speed.
Eight passengers died in the crash and more than 200 people were hospitalized.