Crane Operator Pleads Guilty in Salvation Army Collapse

Prosecutors will recommend sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison for Sean Benschop.

market-street-collapse-940x540

As expected, the crane operator accused of causing the 2013 Salvation Army collapse that killed six people pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from the incident.

Sean Benschop, whom authorities say was high on painkillers and pot at the time of the accident, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, causing a catastrophe and other charges. The convictions carry a possible penalty of up to 94 years in prison; prosecutors said they expect to ask for a 10- to 20-year sentence instead. He may end up testifying against another defendant in the case, Griffin Campbell, the demolition contractor, whose trial is scheduled for September 21st.

“Today’s guilty plea is substantial step in our work to fully prosecute this case,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement released after the plea, “and so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the community, SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia and all of the witnesses who offered testimony and evidence that led to Mr. Benschop’s plea today.”

After the hearing, Benschop’s wife, Tynisha Gregory, said he regretted the accident that took so many lives:

The Salvation Army building at 2140 Market collapsed in June 2013 as workers tried to demolish a building next door. Six people were killed: Juanita Harmon, Roseline Conteh, Mary Simpson, Kimberly Finnegan, Ann Bryan and Borbor Davis.

Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.