Excavator Operator To Plead Guilty in Deadly Market Street Building Collapse

The excavator operator accused of being under the influence of drugs the day of the June 2013 deadly building collapse on Market Street in Center City is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to charges including involuntary manslaughter and causing a catastrophe.

Sean Benschop, 44, was arrested in the wake of the collapse, which killed six people and injured several others when a building being demolished toppled onto a small Salvation Army thrift shop below it June 5, 2013. Authorities said Benschop had been operating an excavator at the site at the time of the collapse and tested positive for marijuana immediately afterward. Prosecutors allege he was also using prescription pain pills at the time.

Defense attorney Bill Davis told the Philadelphia Daily News that Benschop wants to take responsibility for his actions. He said his client "cries and prays almost every night" for the victims and their families.

Benschop, along with Griffin Campbell, 51, the contractor who hired him, both stand charged with several counts of third-degree murder, manslaughter, reckless endangerment and related offenses in the incident. Court records show that a special court appearance is scheduled tomorrow morning for Benschop, where he may plead guilty to some or all of the charges. If he pleads, he could avoid a life sentence.

Court records show that Campbell is still scheduled to face a trial beginning in September.

Davis said prosecutors have agreed not to ask for more than 10 to 20 years in prison. A spokesman for the District Attorney's Office declined to comment about the plea deal.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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