Equipment Operator Was High|in Philly Disaster, Victim Says

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A heavy machine operator was high on drugs during the botched demolition of a downtown building that killed six people and hurt at least 14 in Philadelphia, an injured woman claims in court.
     Shirley Ball sued five businesses and three people in the Court of Common Pleas.
     Ball claims the defendants negligently supervised defendant crane operator Sean Benschop, whom they hired for $10,000, knowing that a skilled contractor would have charged much more.
     The 35-page complaint makes some devastating allegations.
     “Investigations performed after the building collapse revealed that:
     “a. Sean Benschop, aka Kary Roberts, the operator of the excavator, a piece of heavy equipment, was under the influence of codeine, marijuana, and possibly other drugs at the time of the accident;
     “b. Sean Benschop, aka Kary Roberts was wearing a cast on his arm while operating the excavator;
     “c. Sean Benschop, aka Kary Roberts had previously been arrested at least ten (10) times on charges including drugs, theft, firearms, and assault;
     “d. Sean Benschop, aka Kary Roberts has been convicted sixteen (16) times mostly for driving without a license or insurance, and for operating an unregistered vehicle;
     “e. Sean Benschop, aka Kary Roberts served two (2) prison terms for drug convictions;
     “f. The owner or operator of the demolition company also has a criminal record stemming from a phony car wreck scheme, according to court records;
     “g. As long as one (1) month before the collapse, concerned citizens were complaining of the unsafe conditions of the demolition to the City of Philadelphia’s 311 hotline;
     “h. There was a lack of bracing and/or shoring to prevent substantial damage to adjacent buildings; and
     “i. As long as two (2) weeks before the collapse, a crack developed in the wall inside the bathroom of the Salvation Army Thrift Store which was so large that daylight could be seen from inside the store.
     “On June 5, 2013, plaintiff was a patron and business invitee on the premises of the Salvation Army Thrift Store located at 2140 Market Street, when the walls collapsed, which buried her beneath debris and rubble, causing plaintiff to suffer personal injuries, emotional distress and other damages as detailed herein,” according to the complaint.
     The botched June 5 demolition caused on of the walls to fall outward onto the Salvation Army Thrift Store next door. The walls of the thrift store collapsed, pinning patrons and employees under rubble and debris.
     Defendants named as responsible for the safety of the demolition are Richard Basciano, STB Investments Corp., Griffin Campbell, Griffin Campbell Construction, Nicetown House Development Corp., Plato Studio, and Plato Marinakos Jr.
     Defendants Basciano and STB Investments owned the building. Bass and her husband also sued the Salvation Army.
     Benschop has been criminally charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangerment, many newspapers reported, including The New York Times.
     Many other people have announced their intentions to sue by filing summonses for personal injury claims. Several of them are represented by Robert Mongeluzzi, with Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky
     Mayor Michael Nutter has called for Benschop to get a stiff punishment.
     “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,” Nutter said, according to The Associated Press.

%d bloggers like this: