Rescuers end effort to find body in Fla. sinkhole
SEFFNER, Fla. — The effort to find the body of a Florida man who was swallowed by a sinkhole under his Florida home was called off Saturday and crews planned to begin demolishing the four-bedroom house.
The 20-foot-wide opening of the sinkhole is almost completely covered by the house, and rescuers feared that it would collapse on them if they tried to search for Jeff Bush, 37.
Crews were testing the unstable ground surrounding the home and evacuated two neighboring homes as a precaution.
Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said heavy equipment would be brought in to begin the demolition this morning.
“At this point it’s really not possible to recover the body,” Merrill said, later adding, “we’re dealing with a very unusual sinkhole.”
Jessica Damico, spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, said the demolition equipment would be placed on what they believe is solid ground and reach onto the property to pull apart the house. The crew will try pulling part of the house away from the sinkhole intact so some heirlooms and mementoes can be retrieved.
Bush was in his bedroom Thursday night in Seffner, a suburb of 8,000 people 15 miles east of downtown Tampa, when the earth opened and took him and everything else in his room. Five others in the house escaped unharmed.
On Saturday, the normally quiet neighborhood of concrete-block homes painted in Florida pastels was jammed with cars as engineers, reporters and onlookers came to the scene.
At the home next door to the Bushes, a family cried and organized boxes. Testing determined that their house and another was compromised by the sinkhole.
The families were allowed to go inside for about a half-hour to gather belongings.