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Operator in Philly collapse deaths turns self in

June 8, 2013 • Business


Sean Benschop, center, with a red jacket over his head, holds out his hands for investigators as he arrives at the Philadelphia Police Department’s Central Detectives Division, Saturday June 8, 2013, in Center City Philadelphia. Benschop, the heavy equipment operator with a lengthy rap sheet accused of being high on marijuana when a downtown building collapsed onto a thrift store, killing six people, turned himself in on Saturday to face charges in the deaths, police said. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A heavy equipment operator with a lengthy rap sheet who is accused of being high on marijuana when a downtown building collapsed onto a thrift store, killing six people, surrendered Saturday to face charges in the deaths, police said.

Sean Benschop faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe. A warrant had been issued for his arrest and police had been searching for him.

Authorities believe the 42-year-old Benschop had been using an excavator Wednesday when the remains of the four-story building gave way and toppled onto an attached Salvation Army thrift store, killing two employees and four customers and injuring 13 others.

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said a toxicology report showed evidence that Benschop was high on marijuana. That finding, combined with witness statements and evidence from the scene, led to the decision Friday to raid his North Philadelphia home and later seek an arrest warrant, he said.

Benschop’s attorney, Daine Grey, said his client was not at fault.

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