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Entries in Surrender (3)

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

Wednesday
Mar062013

Suspect Julio Acevedo Arrested in Fatal NY Family Hit-and-Run

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Julio Acevedo, the ex-con wanted in the hit-and-run death of a New York City couple and their baby, surrendered to police in Pennsylvania Wednesday, four days after the fatal high-speed crash.

Acevedo will be extradited to New York, where he will be charged with the deaths of Nachman and Raizy Glaube, both 21, and their baby son.

He is accused of driving his car into the livery cab carrying Nachman Glauber and his pregnant wife around 12:30 a.m. Sunday. They were on their way to a hospital.

Nachman Glauber died instantly and Raizy Glauber and their unborn child were rushed to an emergency room. The mother died after delivering the baby boy via C-section.

The premature 7-month-old weighed only 4 pounds when delivered. He initially appeared viable, but died Monday morning.

The BMW Acevedo is accused of driving is believed to have hit the Glaubers' vehicle with enough force that it knocked the car's engine into its backseat.

Acevedo, 44, was on the run from authorities for four days, but managed to twice speak with reporters, telling them on Tuesday that he would soon turn himself in.

"This why I am willing to turn myself in, because my heart goes out to all of those people that's feeling like I'm so much of a bad guy, and I'm really not," he said. "I did not know that occurred until I seen the news. Once I seen the news, I said I have to get my attorney ready before I turn myself in."

He told WABC he was fleeing gunfire when the accident occurred. Police have not yet found any evidence of gunshots.

Acevedo is a career criminal convicted of manslaughter in 1987 and arrested for drunk driving as recently as last month.

The Glaubers were members of a tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community and lived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar232012

Fugitive Sentenced After 42 Years Hiding in Plain Sight

Hemera/Thinkstock(REDWOOD CITY, Calif.) -- For 42 years, Ronald Bridgeforth lived under an alias and settled into a comfortable existence in Michigan, where he raised his family, earned a Master's degree and worked as a college guidance counselor. Nobody but his wife knew he was a fugitive, living as Cole Lee Jordan, hiding since getting into a shootout with police at a San Francisco discount store 42 years ago.

His years of hiding are over. Friday a judge sentenced Bridgeworth, 67, to one year in a county jail, followed by probation for that 1968 shootout.

Bridgeforth, who will likely only serve half of his sentence, told judge Lisa Novak his actions were "misguided" and "reckless."

"I am called to teach and I am called to heal, and I am asking you this morning to give me the opportunity to continue this work in my community," he said in court.

Police did not catch up with Bridgeforth. His conscience did.

On Nov. 5, 1968, the 23-year-old Bridgeforth opened fire on San Francisco police after he was confronted for allegedly using a stolen credit card to buy $29 worth of clothes and toys. No one was injured.

After calling ahead on Nov. 10, 2011, Bridgeforth arrived at the Hall of Justice in Redwood City, Calif., and surrendered to police.

"He said it was the right thing to do and it's all about family," Bridgeforth's attorney Paul Harris told ABC News after his client surrendered. "He wanted his sons to grow up to be the man he was today, not the young man he was on Nov. 5, 1968."

After being confronted on that day in 1968, Bridgeforth allegedly pulled a gun on the officers and fired two bullets into a police car. Police fired back, shooting him in the foot. Bridgeforth was taken into custody.

He pleaded no contest to the shooting, but jumped bail in 1969 and went to Africa for a year, where he knew no one.

"He was 23 and scared," Harris said. "His lawyer said he'd serve life in prison because California had indeterminate sentencing at that time, meaning he could be sentenced to something such as five years to life."

After a year, Bridgeforth came back to the United States and assumed a new identity as Cole Lee Jordan. He settled in to life in Ann Arbor, Mich., with his wife, Diane. Bridgeforth's two grown sons only recently learned of their father's past.

He even severed ties with his mother to keep his identity secure.

Bridgeforth got a job working as a janitor at Washtenaw Community College in 1978, according to Janet Hawkins, spokeswoman for the school.

"Throughout his work here, he went to school and took on various jobs," Hawkins said. She told ABC News Bridgeforth earned a bachelor's degree in general studies from Wayne State University in 1986 and a masters degree in counseling from Eastern Michigan in 1993.

He was licensed by the state of Michigan as a professional counselor in 1994 and became a faculty member at Washtenaw Community College in 1998, where he worked as a student adviser until 2011.

Bridgeforth knew in coming forward that he also faced charges related to the 1971 fatal shooting of an officer. He was alleged to be the getaway driver, but he denied any involvement. Harris said his client wasn't even in the state at the time of the incident.

The San Mateo deputy district attorney dropped those charges after Bridgeforth surrendered. Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti had asked a judge to sentence Bridgeworth to five years in prison.

He told ABC News he had hoped for probation, or at worst, a one year jail sentence.

Even though he gave up his freedom, Harris said Bridgeforth's family is proud of him for setting things right.

"His family is by his side right now," Harris said, adding: "[Ronald] is one of the most dignified, good people I have ever worked with."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio