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Man presumed dead after home collapses in Tampa sinkhole

4:03 PM, Mar 1, 2013   |    comments
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SEFFNER, Florida -- Hillsborough County Fire Chief Ron Rogers tried to make it clear that sinkholes are not uncommon in Florida.

But no one here had ever seen anything like this: a man was sleeping in his own bed when the earth below him suddenly and without warning gave way.

PHOTOS | Sinkhole swallows Fla. man

"They heard a sound what sounded like a car crash," said Chief Rogers, describing the what family members heard.

It was like something out of a horror movie.

Thirty-six-year-old Jeffrey Bush was swallowed up by a sinkhole Thursday night, along with the floor and his furniture.

Bill Bracken is the CEO of Bracken Engineering, which works with the Fire Rescue department in rescue cases. Bracken says the sinkhole is still growing.

"It started in the bedroom and has been expanding outward and has been taking the house with it as it opens up."

Jeff's brother Jeremy, who heard his brother's screams for help, ran inside, and in the darkness, jumped into the widening sinkhole which began to pull him down as well.

"The hole was still caving in and I didn't care. I just wanted my brother, man," said a weeping Jeremy Bush.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy Doug Duvall, who was firstto arrive on the scene, had never seen anything like it. He said he grabbed onto Jeremy, "and was actually able to reach down and grab his hand and pull him out of the hole. The hole was collapsing and at that time we left the house."

Fire rescue workers evacuated the rest of the family safely.

But equipment showed the 30-foot wide, 20-foot deep hole was still growing beneath them. They've sent in specialized equipment, including sound sensors and cameras, but the results are not promising.

"The listening devices are designed to essentially hear the sound a mouse would make walking across the floor. They're that sensitive. They did not detect any signs of life," said Chief Rogers.

From outside the home, family and neighbors watched as workers used sophisticated radar to peer underground.

What they saw prompted them to evacuate neighboring houses on each side of the Bush home as well.

Officials admit they don't know how big the sinkhole will get or whether even more houses in the area may be threatened.

"We don't know where the next sinkhole is going to open, but with this issue here we're going to do everything we can to make sure these people are safe before we leave," promised Chief Rogers.

Another sad twist in all of this: a neighbor says Jeff Bush was only going to be in the home he'd been sharing with his relatives for one more night.

He was planning to move into his own place on Saturday.

(WTSP Tampa)

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