Jacqueline London: Today the worker hired to take down the building that collapsed in Center City in 2013 pleaded guilty for his role in the deadly accident. The plea was an exchange for cooperating with the prosecution. While 44-year-old Sean Benschop has not officially been named as a witness yet, he has agreed to help prosecutors in the upcoming criminal trial of Griffin Campbell, the contractor who hired him.
Campbell’s attorney contends Benschop is to blame for the deadly collapse because he was under the influence of drugs he allegedly took to treat his medical conditions.
William Hobson: I am appalled that in today’s plea offer, the district attorney failed to mention about the high level of THC, the marijuana and Percocets that were ingested.
Jacqueline London: Benschop attorney says the drugs are not the issue. He claims his client expressed concern to his bosses that the building should not have been taken down using an excavator.
Bill Davis: He told them how he believed the job should have been proceeding, that hand demolition was the right way to take down a building in that setting.
Jacqueline London: Coming up on NBC 10 News at 6:00 we will learn more about who else the families of the victims want to hold accountable for the building collapse.
Keith Jones: Let’s turn now to our legal expert Enrique Latoison. Enrique, this tragedy sparked a lot of anger of course. People want justice for these victim’s families. So why do you think here a plea deal was offered?
Enrique Latoison: Well, sometimes, the district attorney’s office has to make hard decisions. Now when this occurred, no one thought that the excavator would ever plead to misdemeanors for the actual death of the people that died in this tragedy.
However, when you look at the case, I mean they want to go after the contractor. I mean they kind of had the excavator. They know what his blood was. They know that he was under the influence and he was the one controlling the crane. So they need a little more evidence. They need the help to link that to the contractor.
So with the excavator’s testimony and cooperation, they had to make that deal in order to help them out to go after the contractor.
Jacqueline London: Enrique, we heard from the family of victim Anne Bryan today. They said in a statement, “Our pain is compounded with the knowledge that so many people, businesses and organizations were either involved, knew of and/or chose to ignore the looming, deadly danger. We will not rest until everyone responsible for Anne’s death is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
So right now the only other person charged in this case is the contractor Griffin Campbell. Why aren’t more people being charged?
Enrique Latoison: Well, I mean you had to have a nexus. You have to be able to tie what happened to those people directly towards the conduct of the people that caused it. You have the excavator. You have the contractor that was also involved with taking down the building. So just because the person might have hired the contractor that hired the excavator, it would not make sure they would make them liable.
However, you still have the civil case. You have other ways to go after them. I mean the ball was dropped there. There were people that should have been overseeing the site. It was dropped all the way around and ended up with 6 innocent people being killed, 12 people being injured. Time will tell who’s going to ultimately pay for everyone’s mistakes in this case.
Keith Jones: That’s for sure. NBC 10 legal expert Enrique Latoison. Enrique, always good to see you. Thank you.
Enrique Latoison: Thank you.