NEW YORK (AFP) - The operator of an excavator behind a deadly building collapse in Philadelphia has turned himself in, local media reported on Saturday, after police said they would charge him with risking and causing a catastrophe.
Sean Benschop, 42, surrendered to police around 1730 GMT, joined by his family and attorney, NBC Philadelphia reported. "Benschop was wearing a red jacket over his head and had a cast on his right arm," the station said.
The Philadelphia Inquirer cited a toxicology report as saying blood tests showed that Benschop had so much marijuana in his system that he was "unfit to perform safety-sensitive, job-related duties." An arrest warrant had been issued for Benschop, who also uses the name Kary Roberts.
The Inquirer said he will also be charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter for each of the people who died in the accident, as well as reckless endangerment and other charges due to injuries sustained by another 14 people.
An abandoned four-storey building in downtown Philadelphia collapsed on Wednesday on top of a two-story Salvation Army thrift store.
The contractor hired to demolish the building that collapsed had filed for bankruptcy protection in March, and has a criminal record stemming from a phony car-wreck scheme, according to the Inquirer.
"He and his family are extremely sympathetic and remorseful with respect to what happened. This was an accident. Mr. Benschop is not responsible, and we believe that in time the facts will show that he is not responsible and the responsible party will be held accountable," his attorney Daine Grey told NBC.