Lawyer Claims Excavator Operator Didn't Cause Building Collapse - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Excavator Operator Didn't Cause Deadly Building Collapse, Lawyer Claims

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Benschop who was operating the back hoe the day of the collapse Benschop who was operating the back hoe the day of the collapse
District Attorney Seth Williams District Attorney Seth Williams
PHILADELPHIA -

"He didn't cause the collapse of the building."

Insisting his client is being made a scapegoat for the building collapse that killed six people and injured 13 more, the lawyer for excavator operator Sean Benschop, aka Kary Roberts, again defended the 43 year old construction worker, claiming he's not to blame for the tragedy.

"We believe that building was completely unstable and probably would have fallen if nobody showed up at the job site anyway," said defense attorney Daine Grey Jr..

A judge gave some ground Wednesday, setting bail at $1.5 million for the demolition back hoe operator who's charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangerment. Benschop has been held without bail.

Mr. Benschop is not a flight risk," Grey said. "A flight risk doesn't turn himself in immediately after learning there's a warrant for his arrest."

"It's too early right now for me to say anything," said District Attorney Seth Williams.

The DA has convened a grand jury to investigate the collapse and what led up to it. He dodged questions Wednesday about where the grand jury investigation is headed.

"We won't have a rush to judgement," Williams said. "We're gonna gather information in a timely manner. Documents, interviewing employees, interviewing civilians, interviewing owners, interviewing everyone possible."

Sources meanwhile confirm that Griffin Campbell, the demolition contractor who hired Benschop to work at the demolition site that collapsed, has had his Licenses and Inspection permits pulled and cannot work as a contractor in the city. The DA wouldn't say if subpoenas have gone out for the grand jury.

"If the grand jury believes it's appropriate, then there will be additional indictments," he told reporters outside the court house.

Prosecutors contend Benschop had traces of marijuana and pain killers in his system the morning of the collapse on June 5th. Sources say subpoenas have gone out for city records and documents.

A City Council Investigative Committee will reconvene Thursday for a second hearing into the collapse. Fox 29 has learned that representatives from OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Laborers Union are expected to testify at the hearing.
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