Philadelphia collapse suspect, Sean Benschop

Sean Benschop surrendered to face charges in the collapse of a Philadelphia building. The heavy equipment operator, who has a lengthy rap sheet, is accused of being high on marijuana when the downtown building collapsed onto a thrift store, killing six people. (Philadelphia Police Department / June 8, 2013)

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The crane operator accused of being high while demolishing a Philadelphia building, which then collapsed and killed six people, was denied bail Sunday.

Sean Benschop, 42, is expected to face six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of risking a catastrophe.

CNN reported that a Philadelphia judge denied Benschop the opportunity for bail.

On Sunday, attorneys for some of the victims toured the disaster site, where an abandoned four-story building under demolition collapsed onto a Salvation Army thrift store with people inside.

At least four victims have filed suit, and one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Robert Mongeluzzi, told the Associated Press that he thinks the building should have been demolished by hand rather than by heavy equipment.

Focus has shifted toward Benschop after a toxicology test showed the crane operator had marijuana in his system, officials said.

Benschop turned himself in to police Saturday.

Benschop, a native of Guyana, has been arrested at least 11 times and convicted of 16 traffic violations, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The paper also reported that Benschop served two prison terms for drug charges in the 1990s.

An attorney for Benschop has said that the crane operator was "extremely sympathetic and remorseful" for the victims but that he did not cause the collapse.


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