D.A. convenes grand jury to investigate fatal building collapse

building collapse
More criminal charges are possible in last week’s fatal building collapse. (Credit: Rikard Larma / Metro)

District Attorney Seth Williams announced Monday that his office is convening a grand jury to investigate possible criminal charges in connection with the 22nd and Market streets building collapse, which last week killed six people and injured 13 more.

The District Attorney’s Office this weekend charged demolition site excavator operator Sean Benschop, 42, with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, risking a catastrophe and causing a catastrophe for allegedly operating the heavy machinery while under the influence of codeine and marijuana.

“Philadelphians have no shortage of opinions of the many people that should be held responsible for the perceived actions and inactions that may have played a role in the chain of events that led to the building collapsing,” Williams said.

“While some may be held responsible in civil court, the role of the grand jury will be to hear from witnesses, to gather documents, to gather information and to then determine if anyone in addition to Mr. Benschop should be held criminally responsible.”

But he asked that Philadelphians not rush to judgment.

“I know Philadelphians demand action,” he said.

“I have heard their voices loud and clear everywhere that I have gone this weekend via email and text, as have all of you.”

He said the grand jury will methodically review the actions and inactions of both the demolition site contractor and property owner, as well as determine whether there were any systemic failures on the part of city officials and others responsible for site safety oversight.

“The grand jury in this case, of course, will investigate and gather all the documents that preceded and may have allowed for the building’s collapse, any and all of the agencies, the protocols, the policies that everyone in Philadelphia is talking about when they’re in the barber shop or the nail salon about what their opinions are,” Williams said.

“Again, my role as District Attorney is not to play that parlor game, but to find the facts and the evidence. The grand jury will do that and I believe, of course, that their report may include those findings and more.”

A similar investigative grand jury was impaneled last year after a partial collapse during a four-alarm warehouse fire killed two firefighters.

That investigation is still ongoing – grand juries can take several years to review evidence and issue findings.

“We want Philadelphians to be patient as we gather all of the evidence and as we do what we think is appropriate in accordance with the law and due process,” Williams said.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Two young children killed in deadly Queens fire

Two 4-year-old children died after a blaze at their Far Rockaway home on Saturday night. The Queens fire injured three others, including a third sibling.

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.