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Entries in Building Collapse (4)

Sunday
Jun092013

Excavator Surrenders in Philadelphia Building Collapse

WPVI/ABC News(PHILADELPHIA) -- A excavator operator turned himself in on Saturday to face manslaughter and other charges in the collapse of a Philadelphia building that killed six people, police said.

Sean Benschop, 42, of Philadelphia, is going to be charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person, one count of risking a catastrophe, Philadelphia Police Department Officer Jillian Russell said.

Marijuana was found in Benschop's system after the collapse, according to police sources.

The operator also admitted to taking codeine and other prescription drugs before the accident, and he was outfitted with a soft cast up to his elbow while working the heavy machinery, police sources told ABC News station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. A source later confirmed the details to ABC News.

"Sean Benschop finally turned himself in to authorities today," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said. "It is because of his reckless and irresponsible behavior that six people died and 13 people were hurt and buried under debris and bricks.

"Our hearts are still hurting over the loss of those six good people, working or shopping at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, trying to 'do good,'" he said. "We continue to pray for the physical and mental recovery of the 13 survivors.

"It is my hope that the harshest level of charges are brought against Sean Benschop and he is punished accordingly," he said.

Nutter said investigators would also be looking whether the owners of the building shared any responsibility in the collapse.

"We must also seek answers from property owners Richard Basciano and Griffin T. Campbell who hired Benschop to do the significant job of operating heavy equipment," he said. "These three individuals bear the ultimate and sole responsibility for this tragedy. Justice will only be served if Sean Benschop receives a sentence that buries him in a jailhouse forever, just like his victims were buried on Wednesday."

Benschop declined to answer questions when a reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer contacted him by cell phone Friday.

Citing court records, the Inquirer reported Benschop has been arrested 10 times for a range of offenses, including drug charges, theft, firearms and assault.

In addition to those killed, 14 more were injured when the vacant building collapsed on a Salvation Army Thrift Store Wednesday morning.

Rescue workers used buckets and their bare hands to move bricks and rubble to free a 61-year-old woman late Wednesday night, but that was the sole piece of good news to come from the pile of rubble where a four-story building used to stand in Philadelphia's Center City.

The 30-hour search-and-rescue operation for additional victims ended Thursday. At that time, Mayor Michael Nutter told ABC News that officials were confident there were no more people buried.

Those killed were identified as Kimberly Finnegan, Borbor Davis, Anne Bryan, Juanita Harmin, Mary Simpson and Roseline Conteh.

The building was being torn down as part of a community redevelopment project. The thrift store was open throughout the demolition.

Two of those killed were Salvation Army employees.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life of the six individuals who perished in the wake of yesterday's building collapse," the organization said in a statement. "The passing of these individuals, including two of our employees, will be felt across our entire organization and throughout the community."

Philadelphia officials were facing tough questions over whether the accident could have been prevented.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and the city's commissioner of licenses and inspections, Carlton Williams, have conceded that complaints about the working conditions at the demolition site were not followed up on.

City officials said that a routine inspection had found no violations at the property before demolition began. Williams said that inspectors had visited an adjoining property in May after complaints were lodged, but they found no violations and did not return to the Market Street site before Wednesday.

"No subsequent inspection occurred to indicate there was any unsafe conditions," Williams said. "We did not follow up and we are definitely looking into that."

Nutter promised a "wide-ranging investigation" into how and why the building collapsed.

In the wake of the collapse, Nutter has announced that every active demolition site in Philadelphia was being inspected for safety. He also announced a series of new rules for demolishing buildings within his city, including requiring a prohibition on using demolition machinery on a building if it is next to an occupied structure and mandatory drug tests and background checks for those operating heavy equipment on demolition sites.

At least 20 people were caught in falling debris when the building collapsed Wednesday around 10:45 a.m. An outer wall of the building that was being demolished fell outward and onto the two-story thrift store, according to city officials.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun082013

Equipment Operator in Philadelphia Building Collapse Turns Self In

WPVI/ABC News(PHILADELPHIA) -- A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Sean Benschop, the heavy equipment operator responsible for the collapse of a Philadelphia building that killed six people on Wednesday.

Benschop is charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of risking a catastrophe after marijuana was found in his system. The operator has also admitted to taking codeine and other prescription drugs before the accident, and he was outfitted with a soft cast up to his elbow while working the heavy machinery.

Citing court records, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Benschop has been arrested 10 times for a range of offenses, including drug charges, theft, firearms and assault.

Authorities say Benschop turned himself in to police.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

Two-Year-Old Girl Dies After Arkansas Building Collapses

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MORRILTON, Ark.) -- A young girl was killed and four others were injured after a building collapsed in Arkansas Monday.

According to ABC News affiliate KATV-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas, two-year-old Alissa Elizabeth Jones was with her mother when the century-old building in Morrilton somehow gave way.  Jones was killed on the scene.  Her mother and aunt were injured in the collapse and were taken to a nearby hospital for surgery.

Two others were also wounded and transported to Little Rock hospitals in critical condition, KATV said.

Officials are working to determine what caused the building to come down.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec222010

Two Chicago Firefighters Killed, At Least 15 Injured after Building Collapse

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Two Chicago firefighters were killed and more than a dozen injured Wednesday after they became trapped in a building while battling a warehouse blaze.

Rescuers dug frantically to free the two, who were among at least four firefighters trapped inside the building. At least 15 other firefighters were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the deaths just before 11 a.m. EST.

"Without warning the roof collapsed trapping four firefighters," Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Huff said at a press conference. "Despite our best efforts at the scene and in the hospitals, two firefighters succumbed to their injuries."

Hoff identified the dead firemen as Edward Stringer and Cory Ankum. Stringer was a 12 year veteran firefighter.

Ankum, a 38-year-old father of three, was a three year veteran of the Chicago police force when he switched careers and joined the fire department 16 months ago. His youngest child is just one year old.

"Every firefighter that was there did the best they could do to save their brothers, our major concern right now is their families," Hoff said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio