Next Steps in the Amtrak Crash Investigation

The NTSB's Robert Sumwalt, ABC News' Pierre Thomas and Dan Abrams on the fatal Amtrak crash in Philadelphia.
5:01 | 05/17/15

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Transcript for Next Steps in the Amtrak Crash Investigation
We turn now to that deadly amtrak crash the FBI has joined the investigation and here's ABC's did David Kerley with the new developments. Reporter: What happened in the last moments of amtrak 188, the train quickly accelerated in its last minute, barrelling down the tracks north of Philadelphia at more than twice the speed of the corner ahead. Captured on this footage obtained from WPVI. Moments later, a flash as the train careened off the track. Now an account of some kind of a projectile hitting the windshield. She also believed that she heard her engineer say something about his train being struck by something. Reporter: The FBI's been asked to join the investigation to examine the damage to the train's windshield and reports of other trains in that area being struck at about the same time. An unknown object made contact with that train, shattering the windshield. Reporter: But even if the amtrak train was hit by something before derailing, how does that explain the sudden acceleration. It's at its speed limit 75 miles per hour. In the final minute, a quick acceleration, 80, then 90. Just 16 seconds before derailment more than 100 miles per hour. Reaching that 50-mile-an-hour curve, the brakes are applied but it's too late. The engineer tells investigators he has no memories of the crash itself. Shut down part of the busiest rail corridor in the country. Before reopening the federal railroad administration is ordering amtrak to take some immediate safety cautions. -- Precautions. Calling for inspections of curved tracks and increased speed limit signage on the northeast corridor. But this corridor doesn't have the newest technology that could actually stop a speeding train. He now promises that technology. By the end of this year, it will not happen again. Reporter: When you heard that this train was 106 miles an hour in a 50-mile limit, what did you think? There was a sickening in my stomach. Reporter: That high-tech system is supposed to be all American rails and trains by the end of this year. The railroads and the rail lines say they won't meet that deadline. They're asking for an extension until 2020. Okay, David, thanks very much. Let's get more on this from the ntsb lead investigator Robert sumwalt, what more can you tell you about this idea of a projectile hitting this train? You know, this idea of something striking the train, that is one of the many things we're looking at right now. We interviewed the amtrak -- well, we interviewed the dispatchers and we listened to the dispatched tape. We heard no communication from the amtrak engineer to the dispatch center to say that something had struck his train. Nothing at all? One theory, nothing reported early on. You have spoken now with the engineer, he's remembered so little, so, are you any closer to figuring out the cause of the crash? At this stage, George, we're in the fact-finding stage of the investigation. I will say this, we have called for inward-facing cameras for a long time, if we had cameras, that would have helped with this investigation significantly. Have you been able to rule anything out? I spoke with the engineer's lawyer the other day, he said that the engineer was not drinking, no drugs in his system, not texting at the time, his phone was locked away, have you been able to confirm all that? We have conducted a drug and alcohol testing. We have also requested the cell phone records as we do for any transportation accident. So, these are the many things that we are doing. We slowly start, we start gathering the information and slowly start ruling things out. And what's the most important thing you need to know right now? I think what we need to know that the ntsb is conducting a very thorough investigation. We'll get to the bottom of this. We have to have positive train control implemented soon to keep things like this from happening in the future. But we just heard it may not happen by the end of the year. Well, you're right, and that's very troubling to the ntsb. We have seen countless accidents over the years that could have been prevented had positive train control been implemented. Okay, Mr. Sumwalt, thank you for joining us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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