Operator in Pa. collapse deaths turns self in
In this photo provided by Jordan McLaughlin, a dust cloud rises as people run from the scene of a building collapse on the edge of downtown Philadelphia on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Buoyed by the discovery of a woman buried in rubble nearly 13 hours later, rescue workers on Thursday were digging through the debris from the building collapse that killed six people a day earlier. (AP Photo/Jordan McLaughlin)
This photo provided by the Philadelphia Police Department via The Philadelphia Inquirer shows Griffin T. Campbell. A lawsuit has been filed against Campbell, the demolition contractor hired to demolish a building in Philadelphia, that collapsed Wednesday. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Police Department via The Philadelphia Inquirer) PHIX OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NEWARK OUT
A heavy equipment operator with a lengthy rap sheet accused of being high on marijuana when a downtown Philadelphia building collapsed onto a thrift store, killing six people, turned himself in yesterday to face charges in the deaths, the police said.
A warrant had been issued for the arrest of Sean Benschop on six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe.
Authorities believe Benschop, 42, had been using an excavator Wednesday when the remains of the four-story building gave way and toppled onto an attached Salvation Army thrift store, killing two employees and four customers and injuring 13 others.
Everett Gillison, Philadelphia’s deputy mayor, told the Associated Press Friday evening that a toxicology report showed evidence that Benschop was high on marijuana. That finding, combined with witness statements and evidence from the scene, led to the decision Friday to raid his North Philadelphia home and later seek an arrest warrant, he said.
Benschop didn’t return phone messages left at numbers listed in his name.
Benschop, who also goes by the name Kary Roberts, has been arrested at least 11 times since 1994 on charges ranging from drugs to theft to weapons possession, according to court records. He was twice sentenced to prison in the 1990s after being convicted on drug trafficking charges. Benschop’s last arrest, on a charge of aggravated assault, came in January 2012, but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.