Crane operator wanted in Philadelphia building collapse turns himself in

Posted at 2:32 PM, Jun 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-08 16:32:28-04

By Susan Candiotti and Greg Botelho

(CNN) — The 42-year-old crane operator wanted on involuntary manslaughter and other charges tied to a deadly Philadelphia building collapse has turned himself in, a police spokesman said Saturday.

Sean Benschop will be charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of “causing a catastrophe.” All are tied to Wednesday’s collapse in downtown Philadelphia that left 6 dead and 13 others injured.

A judge signed an arrest warrant — which had been approved by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams — for Benschop on Friday night or Saturday morning, police said.

Authorities had been looking for him, before he turned himself in.

A four-story wall of a vacant building being torn down on Wednesday fell onto a Salvation Army thrift store in downtown Philadelphia, causing an ominous rubble followed by panic on the streets.

Afterward, searchers climbed over shards of wood, concrete and rebar looking for survivors, such as 61-year-old woman pulled alive from the rubble early Thursday.

The first lawsuit was filed that same day, by attorneys for a 54-year-old woman pulled from the rubble by a firefighter.

Benschop, the crane operator, had marijuana and pain medication in his blood after the collapse, a law enforcement source told CNN.

Mayor Michael Nutter publicly apologized Friday “to the victims and their families” and “to the survivors and their families” for the collapse.

He pushed a new set of demolition standards and controls, promising he’ll pursue whatever action is needed “in order to better ensure our collective public safety.”

“I commit to you that we will make every effort … to find out what went wrong,” Nutter said.

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