The excavator operator wanted in connection with the deadly Philadelphia building collapse surrendered to police on Saturday. The man, Sean Benschop, was accused of being high while operating the equipment.
Benschop was operating an excavator on Wednesday when the remains of a four-story building gave way. They toppled onto an attached Salvation Army thrift store, killing six and injuring 13.
Police issued a warrant for the man’s arrest on Friday after they searched his home in connection with the collapse. Benschop, who already has a lengthy rap sheet, will face six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person, and one count of risking a catastrophe in relation to the building collapse.
Benshop, who also goes by Kary Roberts, has been arrested at least 11 times since 1994. The charges range from weapons possession to drugs and theft. He was also sentenced to prison twice in the 1990s. His last arrest was on January 2012 fir aggravated assault. However, the charges were dropped.
Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison revealed on Friday evening that Benschop’s toxicology report showed evidence that the heavy machinery operator was high at the time of the accident. Police sources also stated that the operator admitted he took codeine and other prescription drugs that day.
He was seen in photographs being led by investigators with a red jacket covering his head and a soft cast on his right arm from fingertips to elbow. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter stated of the arrest:
“Sean Benschop finally turned himself in to authorities today. It is because of his reckless and irresponsible behavior that six people died and 13 people were hurt and buried under debris and bricks.”
Benschop’s attorney has said that his client maintains his innocence and “is not responsible” for the accident. Two survivors of the collapse have already filed lawsuits against the fallen building’s owner and the demolition contractor.
[Image via ShutterStock]