Remember when Philadelphia Mayor Mike Nutter tried to pin the blame for the Market Street building collapse almost entirely on Sean Benschop, the heavy equipment operator? Nutter’s statement read, “Justice will only be served if Sean Benschop receives a sentence that buries him in a jailhouse forever, just like his victims were buried on Wednesday.”
Well now, we’re learning that in the weeks before the deadly catastrophe, “the building’s owner repeatedly warned top city officials and Salvation Army officials that the demolition could endanger the adjacent Salvation Army thrift store.” And the building owner, STB Investments Corp., promised a safer demolition procedure than it actually used. It even pushed forward with the demolition despite its own warnings and unresolved negotiations with the Salvation Army.
According to information obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “e-mails and letters reviewed by The Inquirer show repeated warnings about a possible collapse with potentially deadly results.”
This nonsense must end before someone is seriously injured or worse: those are headlines none of us want to see or read,” wrote Thomas J. Simmonds Jr., property manager for the building’s owner, in an e-mail to Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger on May 22.”
He was complaining about an impasse in negotiations with the Salvation Army, which he claimed created “a situation that poses a threat to life and limb.”
The collapse at 22nd and Market on June 5th killed six people in the neighboring thrift shop.
Benschop now faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe.