Attorney: Officials Will Inspect Collapsed Building

Investigators will perform an official inspection of the site of the deadly Center City building collapse, according to the attorney for one of the victims.

Larry Bendesky, the attorney for the family of Nadine White, one of the six people killed in the accident, says that several officials received an emergency protective order to inspect and document evidence inside the rubble on 22nd and Market Street, beginning Sunday at noon.

According to Bendesky, the investigators will be permitted by court order to enter the site and carry out an inspection. Bendesky also says that at this point it’s too early to tell how culpable the city of Philadelphia is in the accident.

The new development comes as police continue to search for the backhoe operator who was working at the building the day of the crash. Sean Benschop, 43, is charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter as well as 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person, causing a catastrophe and risking a catastrophe.
Sources tell NBC10 that Benschop had marijuana and prescription painkillers in his blood two hours after the outer wall of 2136 Market Street tumbled down onto the Salvation Army Thrift Shop Wednesday morning.

Benschop was operating the backhoe for demolition contractor Griffin Campbell Construction.
Construction company owner Griffin Campbell had a valid contractor license, issued this January, but owed thousands of dollars in unpaid city, state and federal business taxes.

Campbell, 49, also has a criminal history – having pleaded guilty to theft and insurance fraud charges in 2009.

Construction workers and everyday citizens called Griffin Campbell Construction’s demolition practices at the site into question prior to and following the collapse.

A month before the collapse, Stephen Field told the City of Philadelphia’s Philly311 customer service center about a lack of safety gear being used by workers as they hacked away at the brick building. He also voiced his concern that pedestrians could be hit by falling debris or that a complete collapse could happen.

City officials said they sent out a building inspector to an adjacent work site at 2134 Market Street after being provided with that site’s address. They say the inspector found no violations. Officials also said demolition work had not begun at the site of Wednesday’s collapse and that the demolition project was never inspected.

Field disputed that claim, saying there was “no doubt” both buildings were being demolished at the same time. City officials have not responded to Field’s dispute.

A construction worker, who witnessed the collapse, claims there was no lateral bracing to support the wall of the building as the demolition took place.

“We were working across the street,” said Dan Gillis. “The guy on the crane, you could see him grab a piece of steel pulling on it. The wall had no bracing, no blocking, nothing. It was just kind of 30 to 40 feet in the air. They started pulling on the steel and the wall was swaying back and forth. Eventually it just went over.”

A lawsuit has already been filed on behalf of two of the victims – one shopper and one employee.

Stay with NBC10.com for more details on this developing

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