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

Police seek mother of slain 11-year-old on involuntary…

Police are seeking the mother of an 11-year-old girl who was accidentally shot to death by her 2-year-old brother two weeks ago on involuntary manslaughter…

Local

Chestnut Hill College student found dead Wednesday morning

A 22-year-0ld Chestnut Hill College student was found dead this morning inside a college dormitory, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Books

Becoming friends with New York City's oldest known…

"The Life and Times of Richard Musto" tells the story, through a poem, of the oldest known homeless man in New York City.

Going Out

Get down and dirty at these neighborhood dives

Philly's got its share of innovative gastropubs and seen-and-be-seen drinking establishments with inventive cocktails served in mason jars. But sometimes we just want a shot…

Movies

Interview: Johnny Depp says he looks like himself,…

Johnny Depp talks about his new sci-fi thriller "Transcendence," not wearing gaudy makeup and wigs for a change and how he's a bit of a Luddite.

Movies

Review: 'Heaven is for Real' tries to be…

The mega-bestseller "Heaven is for Real" becomes a movie that tries to portray wrestling with faith — or at least it tries to try.

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.

Wellbeing

Cognitive skills begin to drop at age 24

But the news isn't all that bad.

Career

How to get a job at a startup:…

We talked to Tarek Pertew, one of the co-founders behind Uncubed, about how to get your dream job at a startup.

Parenting

The 'smartest' summer camps across the country

See a list of summer camps across the country that emphasis learning, while still being fun.