Charges Expected for Crane Operator in Philly Building Collapse

Criminal charges are coming in connection with the Philadelphia building collapse that leveled a Salvation Army storefront and killed six people in the process. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that authorities will charge the 42-years-old operator of the crane that started the disastrous cave in with six counts of involuntary manslaughter and with one count of risking and causing a catastrophe. Toxicology reports allegedly reveal that the man, Sean Benschop, had enough marijuana in his system to impair his job-related duties. Other charges could come down against the man, who’s also used the name Kary Roberts, regarding the other people injured in the incident who managed to survive.

Philadelphia 2 - Charges Expected for Crane Operator in Philly Building Collapse

Are We Blaming the Right People?

While federal regulations prohibit the operation of a commercial vehicle while under the influence of any drug, there seems to be little to no regulation at the city or state level for operating an excavator. That’s the type of machine Benschop was allegedly operating when he removed a beam in the run-down four-story building just minutes before the collapse.

 This man may have some level of culpability with regard to the terrible tragedy last week, but he’s far from the only one who stands to face punishment. Reports from multiple outlets indicate the building’s owner, Richard Basciano, paid a discount demolition crew just $10,000 for a job that industry experts contend should’ve cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A man with a criminal record of fraud heads the crew he hired. To blame a middle-aged man for the entirety of the tragedy seems a bit excessive, but not uncommon. Prosecutors want to go after the man with the smallest wallet who may not be able to fend off a slew of criminal charges with the same level of effectiveness as the rich man who owns the property and who is responsible for hiring the demolition company.   

Philadelphia City Hall building.

Remaining Silent is a Frustrating but Effective Choice

Editorial stories all over the place call for Basciano to issue a more detailed public statement and to answer questions directly from the media. Let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen. The legal teams surrounding that man are working overtime to insulate him from the public eye and to develop a rigorous defense to fend off the lawsuits that are no doubt coming.

There’s no love lost between residents of Philadelphia and Basciano, a reported slumlord and one-time porn king of Times Square in New York City. Should any of his claims of negligence surrounding the building collapse end up in front of a jury, he’ll likely get his checkbook nailed to the proverbial wall. Negligence, I mean real carelessness, has a way of galvanizing communities against those who would use them for profit and gain at all costs.

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