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

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

National

Miss America thinks school should reconsider discipline of…

A Pa. student was suspended for asking Miss America to prom.

Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

NHL

Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.

NHL

Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.