“Sean Benschop was demolishing a four-story building next to a Salvation Army thrift store, when part of the structure collapsed onto the store,” WHYY’s Elizabeth Fiedler tells our Newscast Desk.
Police say Benschop, 42, will be charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter, as well as counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe.
A warrant for his arrest was issued Friday. NBC10 in Philadelphia reports that when Benschop turned himself in Saturday, he was with family members and his attorney, Daine Grey Jr. Grey gave this statement to NBC10:
“He and his family are extremely sympathetic and remorseful with respect to what happened. This was an accident. Mr. Benschop is not responsible and we believe that in time the facts will show that he is not responsible and the responsible party will be held accountable.”
Philly.com reports that “blood tests revealed marijuana in Sean Benschop’s system at levels that ‘he was unfit to perform safety-sensitive, job-related duties,’ according to a toxicology report.” Anonymous sources tell NBC10 that marijuana and painkillers were in Benschop’s blood two hours after the building fell.
Grey told NBC10 that Benschop “was completely able to operate a backhoe. There was nothing that would have stopped him from operating it. He operated it safely as he always does and he did not violate the law in any capacity.”
In response to the building collapse, Philadelphia officials have inspected hundreds of demolition sites, WHYY’s Fiedler reports. She says the city is also “planning to implement sweeping changes to its regulations of building demolition.”