Source: Demolition worker had drugs in system after collapse

Griffin Campbell and Sean Benschop

June 7, 2013 12:51:49 PM PDT
Police sources tell Action News that the man who was operating a piece of heavy equipment ahead of a building collapse that killed six people in Center City Philadelphia had drugs in his system after the incident.

Sean Benschop was allegedly using the equipment on Wednesday morning to demolish a building at 22nd and Market. A wall of the building fell, crushing an adjacent Salvation Army thrift shop.

On Friday, police sources told Action News that preliminary blood tests revealed marijuana in Benschop's systems.

In addition, police sources say, he allegedly admitted to taking codeine and other prescription drugs and had a soft cast on one arm up to his elbow.

This news comes as a lawsuit against demolition contractor Griffin Campbell gained speed as the rescue operation from Wednesday's collapse wound down.

A worker at a Salvation Army store adjacent to a building in the process of being torn down was sorting clothes when she heard rumbling and was suddenly buried, a lawyer for her said Friday as a shopper joined the woman in her lawsuit against the demolition contractor.

Nadine White, a 54-year-old mother of three, had worked at the thrift store for about eight months. She was in the back of the store when she "heard a rumble and a wall collapsed on her," attorney Larry Bendesky said.

A second plaintiff, Linda Bell, joined the lawsuit. Bell, a 50-year-old mother of three, was shopping when the collapse happened. She fell into the basement and was covered by rubble for more than an hour.

"She's pretty shook up, in a lot of pain," her attorney Joseph Marrone said.

Also on Friday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said the city is changing the way buildings are demolished in response the collapse.

Speaking to reporters, Nutter said that every active demolition site in the city is being inspected for safety.

All new demolition activities will have new standards for permission, including site safety plans, inspections by engineers and prohibitions on the use of machinery if the site is next to an occupied building.

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