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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Philadelphia Mayor Talks to Press; Latest on Amtrak Crash Investigation. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 14, 2015 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:03] MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, D-PHILADELPHIA: Eight deceased from this horrible tragedy, but all individuals that we had any reason to believe were on that train have now been accounted for. And we know their whereabouts completely.

As, let me finish. As far as Commissioner Sawyer indicated as Chief Inspector Sullivan indicated and as (inaudible).

We will maintain a support role with Amtrak provide any assistance to the NSTB in their investigatory process. And should any other instances occur at the site certainly the Philadelphia Fire Department, Police Department, EMS personnel and Office of Emergency Management stand ready to provide assistance to these two agencies who in essence now have the major responsibility at this location.

NTSB will conduct their investigation. I believe the Federal Railway Administration conducts a simultaneous investigation for their purposes. Amtrak is in the process of removing all of the train cars and repairing a significant damage to the railroad infrastructure. And we will maintain a support role in that regard.

With that in mind and to the extent that there are questions that I can provide answers too, I will. If there are questions that I cannot provide answers too, I think you all know by now that I will not.

The gentleman asked the question with regard to the person who is recovering. I think you have also experience over these past few days, I, we have not released any information with regard to individuals recovering, that is not within our protocol. But the medical examiner has the remains of those individuals, notification must be made and have respect of course to the families.

And we do not as a city government release names out of respect to the family and should they end up somehow in the public realm or if family members make their own announcement you will then have that information. But I will not release any of information with regard to any of the now confirmed eight deceased.

Gentlemen in front.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... WNBC in New York, her question for the Amtrak CEO is that possible...

NUTTER: Let me hear the question. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is he just made a pledge to install positive train control by the end of the year. The Federal Government had already asked him to do that. So the question is why had it not been installed before?

NUTTER: Well Chairman, Mr. Boardman can explain that. But it is certainly in my understanding that type of work is in progress. I don't believe anyone standing here and I'm sure none of you have ever experienced that if you tried to implement system change or even safety changes that all of them get implemented instantly.

It is my understanding that this PTC devices or controls, they've already been in the process of installing them and that in fact some of those devices are already in place in parts of the Northeast corridor and possibly either here in Philadelphia or parts of Philadelphia or near Philadelphia.

But the systems take time and again I'll let the CEO explain. But that's the information that I have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Boardman.

JOSEPH BOARDMAN, AMTRAK CEO: So, the answer who -- your question, the answer is that we started installing positive train control in the 90s. Positive train control exists now between New Haven and Boston and then operates.

In 2008 I was a federal railroad administrator and I supported and click in the law the requirement for this December of 15 positive train control. It's the same year I became CEO of Amtrak.

We begin immediately so we spent a $111 million getting ready for positive train control. We got to change a lot of things on the corridor to make it work. And we're very close to being able to cut it in. We need some testing done on interference with the 220 megahertz radios that we're dealing with. But we will complete this by the end of the year.

[12:35:09] I believe we will probably be the only railroad in the United States and in the Western hemisphere that will have positive train control. And I think that has not been reported well frankly. We have delivered a leadership role in positive train control in United States.

NUTTER: Hold on for one second there. Hold on for one second, OK. So, couple of ground rules here. For our purposes we are not going to spend the morning talking or the afternoon talking about positive train control.

I want to take us back to what brought us here. There was a tragedy, eight lives lost, one family just notified with regard to the remains. And they are going through that process.

If you want to have a policy conversation or finger pointing contest, generally this is not going to be the place for that. If you want to in touch with Mr. Boardman and Amtrak folks and talk about positive train control and a schedule and where is it and where does it not exist, I'm going to ask you to do that host this press conference and this information that we're sharing with you today.

We have people who died. We have people who were injured. There is a process. So for those all of those questions I'm going to respectfully ask you to direct them to Amtrak host this press conference. And I'm sure Mr. Boardman and his team can give you as much information as you would like. Yes ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) was the train running late on schedule when it was heading for the destination?

NUTTER: As my understanding from talking with Amtrak personnel last night that train number 188 out of Washington D.C. which is the 710 train. I would uptake and personally many times was on time out of Washington D.C. was also on time out of the city of Philadelphia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor.

NUTTER: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible), why have the engineer (inaudible).

Male: Let me try to address that, you know, I don't know a whole lot about New York City, a great town, you know, we have a certain way of speaking here in Philadelphia. And for all of you I think we also need to try to put a period at the end of the sentence on all of this back and forth.

I have tremendous respect for the NTSB. I have tremendous respect for Mr. Samuel who we work together in a previous tragedy here in the city of Philadelphia.

In the hit of the moment for a guy like myself who cares passionately about people. Those experience lost in our city who wants to get some answers and get to the bottom of what's going. And having just learned that the individual based on the earlier press conference by the NTSB who had determined from the event recorders that the individuals traveling at a 106 miles an hour on an S curve that is rated for 50 miles an hour.

I was expressive in my language. But I don't think that any common sense rational person would think that it was OK to travel at that level of speed knowing that there was a pretty significant restriction on how fast you could go through that turn.

So I was being expressive. I know the people in New York don't speak in an expressive fashion. But we do here in Philadelphia. I express an opinion as the Mayor and as a citizen.

He -- Mr. Samuel is a professional board member from one of the most respected agencies in the United States of America. And in no way shape performed should my comments be taken as to be judgmental about their process or what might happen or anything else.

I often speak from the heart which at times is terrifying to other folks that I work with and the press office. But we need to end that I've watch a lot of the ping pong it is meaningless. It is literally meaningless in the whole scheme of things.

The NTSB has a job to do, they have an investigation to take on. But I don't think I said anything that any person who are watching television yesterday after that announcement was not thinking here in Philadelphia if not across the United States of America.

So we need to stop talking about that one and let's move ourselves on. Yes Sir?

[12:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible), how many are remaining in the hospital, how many do hospitalize at this point in the city. Are you...

(OFF-MIKE)

NUTTER: We have 23 individuals at Temple University. And we can, you know, provide some information later on the day of the breakdown at a number of the other -- at the number of the other hospitals. I planned to be in touch with as many of those folks as possible. Some have had treatment and moved on.

But, I mean, the fact to the matter is it's certainly more important for them to get the treatment that they need and pay attention to their doctors and medical personnel than for me to be in their room in the way and interfering with their care.

I think all of those folks know how passionately I care about them, and I'll do my best to be in touch with them. But it's quite more important for them to be talking to their doctor than to be talking to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Mayor...

NUTTER: All the way in the back. I'm going to come right back to you. Was that you in the brown? Okay.

(OFF-MIKE)

NUTTER: To me identify -- yeah.

(OFF-MIKE)

NUTTER: Really, the first part of your question is at the moment no, we're not. I think we -- I think, from a process standpoint, I think, you know, yet to a level of "criminal investigation" until you know you have fully something to investigate.

What we got was a significant piece of information yesterday in terms of speed and S curves and mile per hour limits, and those kinds of things. But I don't know, from a process standpoint, that we are at the point of, you know, kind of those next second and third steps. You have to have probable cause to go in that particular direction. All of that is about information gathering and a series of various interviews that will take place with people who are on the train.

NUTTER: Let me go over here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) can you just clarify the role of your police department? Did the engineer cooperate with Philadelphia PD in giving statements? Did he give blood or urine samples...

(OFF-MIKE)

NUTTER: OK. So the bulk of the tail end of your questions, I will not be able to answer because I cannot answer those questions and they're inappropriate and would interfere with what we're trying to do.

I do appreciate that there has been some level of confusion with regards to what do the engineer say or not say. I wanted -- I think I can definitively say the following. The engineer was injured. Again, I want to remind you the engineer, of course, was in the first train car, the engine component. That car, we believe, actually tumbled over and over and over numerous times, and the engineer survived. He's taken out of the vehicle, went to a hospital, received treatment, was interviewed by the police department, and I believed it was a pretty short interview in which he apparently indicated that he did not want to be interviewed.

That's all we have. And he doesn't have to be interviewed if he doesn't want to at this particular stage, so that's kind of how the system works. In terms of all the other questions that you asked, I'm not in the position to answer...

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: I'm not in the position to answer that question at this time. John (ph)?

(OFF-MIKE)

NUTTER: 43 and 18.

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: So, John (ph), I'm really, really (inaudible), and I only heard the tail end of your question because I was talking.

JOHN (ph): A question for the railroads.

(OFF-MIKE)

NUTTER: OK. Right.

JOHN (ph): A question for the railroad would be when would be the earliest you can restore service in...

NUTTER: OK. Let me hold for that. So let me update the information that I gave you slightly there. There are 43 people in hospitals, 43 people. So I want to correct what I said earlier. 43 people in hospitals, 18 of whom are at Temple University. And we will try to figure out if you need further information, try to figure out where everyone else is.

That's a train question, so it sounds like Mr. Boardman.

[12:45:15] BOARDMAN: We expect really that we're going to be with limited service at least by Monday, maybe full service Monday. We're really looking at full service for Tuesday. We've got some cap holes we have to reinstall. It takes some concretes some time to set, and that's kind of where we are in terms of timing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor?

NUTTER: Last question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Mayor

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... or maybe for you and (inaudible). Are you able to say were all of the victims located in the front car or where there some in other parts of the...

NUTTER: Well, I'm not going to be grim, but second, unfortunately, I'm not really going to answer that question. That's all a part of the larger investigation. And quite honestly, we don't need that information, just floating around.

So, thank you all very, very much.

(OFF-MIKE)

NUTTER: I cannot and I will not.

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: I gave the last question one, but this is the real last question.

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: Sorry, I didn't hear the first part of your question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If negligence is found, is there a possibility of criminal charges?

NUTTER: The premise of your question doesn't allow me to answer. That is the huge "if". That is way down the line, and I cannot address that kind of issue.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right.

NUTTER: I didn't roll it in, I didn't roll it out. I can't answer the question.

(CROSSTALK)

NUTTER: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you, guys.

(OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... provided this morning is that -- are you satisfied? You said there will be (inaudible). But give a sense of how dangerous -- difficult still is there at the scene.

NUTTER: Amtrak workers are on the scene along with contractors. They are diligently doing their work. The scene obviously is very different today than it was a couple of days ago. But we still have fire personnel and police personnel on the scene because we wanted to be absolutely sure of what we have and what we think. We know at this particular moment, but we wanted act with certainty. And then an over abundance of caution, we are keeping some personnel on sight.

Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you. Thank you, guys. We appreciate it.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN: OK. So that was a little over half hour worth of news conference in which it was a very convoluted and wrong information being corrected while it was actually being given out. But let me try to make some sense of it.

The mayor started the news conference by saying the death toll is seven, it is not. It is eight. He corrected that somewhere into the news conference. There was no update on the injured until the end of the news conference. 43 people are still in hospital throughout Philadelphia, we can tell you that.

We also know, and this is, perhaps, the most significant news coming from the Fire Commissioner, Derrick Sawyer, he was the person who told us that the Fire Department was called back with its K-9 unit this morning. They had cleared the dogs from the track but something didn't seem right. When the dog came back this morning, it got several hits in that first car. And they found one more cadaver and they were able to remove it from wreckage, and then that cadaver has gone for medical examiner. We are working to put the identification on that person.

We do know that there is a report from an uncle of a missing person, and he's been called to the morgue. I'm going to give you more on that just a moment.

We can also say this, it took a long time to get this out after the glad handing and congratulating of the officials there. But the mayor said that now critically, all 243 passengers are accounted for.

This is something we've been waiting for. We needed the answers to these very pressing questions on the dead, the missing, the injured. And now, we know at least that all 243 passengers are accounted for.

And we can tell you also that as far as the cooperation with the engineer, there is the discrepancy as to whether he did or did not speak with the police voluntarily. The mayor's accounted this is that he was interviewed by the police department. It was a short interview. He indicated he did not want to be interviewed.

His lawyer said on Good Morning America this morning, however, that he spoke for hours, upwards of five hours, in fact, before the lawyer actually showed up. And then, perhaps, the interviews ended at that point. So we still have discrepancy there.

We also have the CEO of Amtrak reporting that full service could actually return to these tracks, although, it's incredible looking at that picture you're seeing, by Tuesday of next week.

So those are critical details that we finally got to.

But I want to get now to these eight deaths, and let me reiterate. We do have eight people dead. If you tuned in to the beginning of the news conference, the mayor said it was seven. That was corrected. It is in fact eight.

Our Jason Carroll is on the telephone now with us live in Philadelphia.

Jason, you'll have to help me understand this because we have the confirmation that a body was discovered this morning by the cadaver dogs. It was extracted from the wreckage and taken to the medical examiner, but then we have additional reporting that someone -- that the eight victim had died at the hospital. And then we have, I think, reporting with someone you've spoken to and that is the uncle of one of the missing. Can you try to make some sense for this for me?

[12:50:20] JASON CARROLL: Well, what I can do is I can talk about the uncle, and that's what you are asking about, Ken Bynoe. He is the uncle of Robert Gildersleeve. And I know you know that name, that is the businessman from Baltimore who boarded in Baltimore who was among those unaccounted for as of this morning.

I can tell you that when I spoke to Ken this morning, he said that he had just left the crash site. He was there with investigators when body was indeed found there -- a body found in the business class car that -- the lead car, the one that sustained the most damage. He said he was on his way to the morgue to make what he believes to be a positive identification.

Now, that's just what Ken Bynoe was saying again, he is the uncle of Robert Gildersleeve. And so what we have to do at this point, Ashleigh, is put two and two together. I mean the mayor at this point is saying that all that were unaccounted for have now been accounted for. All 243 people who were onboard and even thought the city at this point would not come out publically and confirm because at this point, they basically cannot whether Gildersleeve is the eighth fatality. We can tell you his family is on the way to the morgue to make an identification. It was an incredibly difficult conversation to have with his uncle, Ken Bynoe as you can imagine, Ashleiugh.

He was very, very distraught. And I said to him, I said, "Do you believe that there is any hope at all?" And he said to me, "I just don't at this point." So, a very difficult conversation to have. I'm sure by later this afternoon we'll have some more specifics, but at this point I can tell you that Robert Gildersleeve's family is, and at this point, may already be at the morgue to make what they believe might be a positive identification.

BANFIELD: Just terribly sad news, and our hearts go out to the family members of Bob Gildersleeve and also that uncle that you were speaking with, Ken Bynoe.

Jason Carroll reporting for us live. Thank you.

I want to add one more piece of detail that came from this new conference. There were some discrepancy as to whether this train had been late and trying to make up time. They've been some accusations made in that regard. The mayor in this new conference said Train 188 left Philadelphia on time. Left Washington on time. That's from the mayor. Still a lot of information to come in as you can imagine from the black box that the NTSB has untold amounts of scientific information that will be critical to any one and everyone involved in this story before anyone starts throwing out terms like reckless, which means criminal, which means very, very serious.

We're going to talk a little bit about that after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:52] BANFIELD: Our breaking news with the Amtrak crash. A few more details to update you. An eighth person has now been discovered and that brings the death toll here to eight. That body was found this morning by a cadaver dog, the fire department doing that. Forty- three people still in the hospital. Amtrak Service may actually be able to get back up and running by Tuesday.

Still though, the big question and that is how did this happen. And the engineer's role or perhaps the train's role. Was it mechanical, was it the engineer? These things are still very much up in the air.

I want to bring in David Soucie, CNN's safety analyst, a former FAA inspector. As well as Richard Beall who's a railroad operation and safety expert, and then also Joe Vranich, who's the -- a former Amtrak spokesperson and the author of "End of the Line". And Richard Beal, if I can just start with you. You heard that full news conference, what stood up the most to you?

RICHARD BEALL, RAILROAD OPERATION AND SAFETY EXPERT: The rhetoric. He's non-stop. He sat there for almost 40 minutes and said absolutely nothing...

BANFIELD: But do we have anything more towards how this awful tragedy happened?

BEALL: Nothing. Nothing. It was admonished the night before by the NTSB for letting them do their job.

BANFIELD: Yeah. And in terms of, you know, Joe Vranich, let me get you in on this because there's been a lot of criticism being thrown around about the engineer, and with the benefit of the doubt, nobody knows anything yet. Those black boxes have not been made public. Those event, you know, recorders have not been made public. Your read on what's happening right now with his cooperation or lack thereof, or all of these other stories with regards to the engineer's role?

JOE VRANICH, FORMER AMTRAK SPOKESPERSON: Really, I'm able to describe the engineer's role. I've been an Amtrak spokesman during these kind of things many, many years ago. And anything I say would be speculations. So I'm going to pass, I have to.

BANFIELD: And the issue that there have been these criticisms of him being reckless made publically. The mayor having to address it in front of the reporters right then and there.

VRANICH: All I can say is positive train control had it been in effect would have -- this accident would have been avoided. In the 1990s, I was railroad lobbyist in Washington D.C., I tried getting the Clinton administration and republicans and democrats in Congress to do more, to provide more funds for safety aspects regarding Amtrak, and basically I was whistling in the wind. They wouldn't listen. So there's a lot of blame to go around here for why that system is not in place after we've been talking about it for more than 20 years.

BANFIELD: And Joe Boardman, the CEO of Amtrak just saying in that live news conference, he expects that it will be completed in this quarter, before the end of the year. I have 30 seconds left. David Soucie, still the issue of recklessness or negligence or anything that rises to a criminal level for the engineer, what has to be proven? What has to come in order to reach that?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, first of all, everything has else to be ruled out, whether there was a mechanical failure, if the throttles were retarded and the train continued to speed, that would be critical, as well as when you apply that emergency, break and if it worked as well. So there's a lot that goes into this and it's too early to tell at this point.

BANFIELD: You sure need to know about the mechanics and whether there was anything mechanical that didn't go right before we start throwing a lot of accusations at this engineer.

Thank you all. I appreciate your insights to this. We're continuing to watch this breaking story.

[13:00:08] My colleague, Wolf Blitzer is going to take the helm now.