Amtrak crash survivor says train was going "way too fast"

PHILADELPHIA -- A passenger who survived a deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia more than two years ago says she heard a "big bang," then blacked out and woke up in the woods.

Blair Berman was riding in the severely damaged first car of the train. She testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for Brandon Bostian, an Amtrak engineer who's facing criminal charges in the derailment that killed eight people and wounded about 200.

Berman says the train speeded up as it approached a curve and she could feel her body weight shifting before the crash. She says the train was "going way too fast."

Investigators say Bostian accelerated to 106 mph in a 50 mph curve in May 2015, sending the Washington-to-New York train tumbling from the tracks. Federal safety investigators concluded Bostian lost his bearings while distracted by an incident with a nearby train.

Bostian's lawyers went into Tuesday's preliminary hearing seeking to dismiss the case, which came about only after a victim's family got a judge to order that charges be filed.

The judge had overruled a district attorney's decision not to bring charges after victim Rachel Jacobs' family filed a private criminal complaint.

Amtrak has taken responsibility for the crash and agreed to pay $265 million to settle claims filed by victims and their families.

The National Transportation and Safety Board found no evidence that Bostian was impaired or using a cellphone. The agency also called Amtrak's long failure to implement automatic speed control throughout the busy Northeast Corridor a contributing factor.

Bostian has a personal injury suit pending against Amtrak, saying he was left disoriented or unconscious when something struck his train before it derailed. He had heard through radio traffic that a nearby commuter train had been struck by a rock. However, the NTSB concluded that nothing struck his locomotive.