Building Collapse In Philadelphia Survivor Speaks, Contractor’s Home Searched

Elaine Radford

A survivor of the building collapse in Philadelphia broke her silence on Monday. Felicia Hill, 36, is a mother of seven who was working in the Salvation Army thrift shop on Wednesday when she was buried in the horrific building crash that killed six and hurt 13.

On Monday, she spoke at a news conference where her attorneys announced that they were filing several lawsuits to seek compensation for the victims of the disaster.

“[A]ll I could think about was my children… I was banged up, emotionally scarred,” she said. Fortunately, she wasn’t seriously injured. A firefighter and another unnamed individual helped pull her free of the debris, allowing her to come forward to offer her testimony on what she heard immediately before the Philadelphia building collapse.

But she is still scarred because she witnessed co-worker Kimberly Finnegan being buried in the debris. Finnegan was killed on her very first day on the job.

Felicia Hill also revealed that she and her co-workers had been hearing bricks hit their roof from time to time over the course of several days as contractors worked on the demolition of the building next door. She again heard bricks hit the roof during the collapse.

A grand jury will be investigating criminal charges into the collapse.

The 42-year-old crane operator alternately known as Kary Roberts or Sean Benschop has already turned himself in and now faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter as well as multiple other criminal charges.

Under either name, the toxicology result reportedly showed that Roberts or Benschop was impaired as a result of smoking marijuana at the time of the accident. He has an extensive arrest record and served two prison sentences in the 1990s for selling drugs.

That begs the question of why anyone would hire him to operate heavy equipment in the first place. Some people say that the property owners or the general contractor bear some responsibility.

On Monday police detectives searched general contractor Griffin Campbell’s home and took away a box of items, which they refused to describe to local new sources.

Campbell’s attorney said that the contractor has more than 20 years in the construction industry, including four years in demolition. He acknowledged that Campbell hired Benschop but denied that he’d told him to use the excavator equipment that day, instead claiming that the project was “being done brick by brick.”

“Philadelphians have no shortage of opinion on who should be held responsible in the chain of events that led up to this,” Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams observed. However, he pleaded with the public to let the grand jury do its work.

He asked residents to avoid a rush to judgment about who contributed to the tragic building collapse in Philadelphia.

[Philadelphia building collapse photo via Belga News Navigator]