the sad tale of amtrak 188

Posted: January 28th, 2016 | No Comments »
 Brandon Bostian, Amtrak 188’s engineer, in 2007. Credit Photograph by Huy Richard Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press

Brandon Bostian, Amtrak 188’s engineer, in 2007. Credit Photograph by Huy Richard Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press

the tragic tale of the wreck of amtrak 188 and its engineer brandon bostian:

There seems never to have been a time when Brandon Bostian did not dream of a career on the railroad. Growing up in suburban Tennessee, a shy and slightly gawky introvert, he papered the walls of his bedroom with pictures of locomotives and made regular pilgrimages to Central Station in Memphis. There, in the evenings, he would observe the arrival of the City of New Orleans, an overnighter immortalized in the 1971 folk song of the same name (“Mothers with their babes asleep rocking to the gentle beat/And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel”). “When you heard the name Brandon Bostian, the first thing you would think is trains,” one friend told The Times.

Most kids outgrow their love of trains. Bostian never did. At the University of Missouri, he studied journalism and business and attended a nondenominational Christian church called the Rock. Openly gay later in life, Bostian dated women in college. “He was never exactly the life of the party,” a fellow Rock parishioner told me. “It took some time to get to know him. Once you did, you saw how truly kind he was, and how smart.” And yet the railroad was never far from Bostian’s mind. A college roommate remembers him holed up in his dorm room, playing train simulators on the computer. He amassed books on trains, small metal models of them. During his senior year, he landed a part-time gig as a brakeman with a regional railway and then later a conductor with Amtrak, and by 2010, he had migrated out to the Bay Area to work as a contract engineer for Caltrain, the local commuter-rail line.



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