Excavator operator could receive a 20 year sentence
PHILADELPHIA (July 21, 2015) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office today announced that Sean Benschop has pleaded guilty to six counts of Involuntary Manslaughter and other charges related to the June 5, 2013, collapse of the Market St. Salvation Army Building. The plea also includes charges of Aggravated Assault, Conspiracy, Causing a Catastrophe and twelve Counts of Reckless Endangerment.
“Most of us can recall the tragic image of a free-standing, unbraced wall coming down on the Salvation Army building; a building that was open for business with employees and customers inside,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “The death of six people and the injury of twelve others was nothing short of heartbreaking and I continue to offer my condolences and prayers for the survivors and families whose lives were forever altered on June 5, 2013.
“Today’s guilty plea is substantial step in our work to fully prosecute this case and so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the community, SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia and all of the witnesses who offered testimony and evidence that led to Mr. Benschop’s plea today,” added Williams.
The non-negotiated plea could bring a sentence of up to10-20 years in prison. Benschop will be sentenced after the trial of his co-defendant, contractor Griffin Cambpell on September 21, 2015. Benschop was the operator of an excavator that was being used to demolish a building next to the Salvation Army building when it collapsed onto the property which was located at 2140 Market St. in Philadelphia killing patrons and employees.
Killed in the collapse were Juanita Harmon, Roseline Conteh, Mary Simpson, Kimberly Finnegan, Ann Bryan and Borbor Davis. Maria Pukan suffered serious and permanent injury.
Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Selber and Edward Cameron, Chief and Assistant Chief respectively, of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Homicide Unit are prosecuting the case.