Convictions in Philadelphia Building Collapse

collapsed buildingIn June of 2013, a Philadelphia building in that was undergoing a demolition collapsed suddenly onto itself and the neighboring Salvation Army store. Six people were killed, including both workers and civilians.

After an extensive investigation, the demolition subcontractor Sean Benschop has been sentenced to seven and a half to 15 years in prison. Griffin Campbell, the contractor overseeing the site was sentenced to 15-30 years for involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, causing a catastrophe and aggravated assault.

Benschop was found to have operated heavy machinery under the influence of painkillers and medical marijuana, and Campbell did not perform the demolition in a safe manner, which ultimately lead to its collapse. Typically a building that was in close proximity to others would be taken down floor by floor starting from the top. Campbell allegedly was interested in stripping the building for parts that he could re-sell and gutted the building from the inside so he could take out bricks and joists. It became unstable, and a four-story wall was left unsupported and ultimately collapsed.

Borbor Davis and Kimberly Finnegan worked at the Salvation Army store and were killed when the building collapsed onto the store. Mary Simpson, Anne Bryan, Juanita Harmin and Roseline Conteh were in the store when the collapse occurred and were also killed. A dozen others were injured.

According to testimony, Campbell had heard warnings from architects and others on the construction site that the site was not stable and could easily collapse yet did nothing to address the looming danger.

Not only does cutting corners on a job site put those workers at risk, but it puts everyone in proximity of the site at risk too. This was a shocking story to residents in and around the Philadelphia area but it could happen anywhere. Saving a little money to ignore safety precautions often ends up more costly in the end.


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