World & Nation

Florida sinkhole that swallowed man continues to deepen

Florida sinkhole that swallowed man continues to deepen
A home in Seffner, Fla., was still standing Friday after a sinkhole opened under Jeff Bush’s bedroom, swallowing him. One structural engineer expressed amazement that the house had not collapsed.
(Edward Linsmier / Getty Images)

The  sinkhole that opened under a Florida home Thursday night, swallowing a man in his bed, continued to grow Friday evening, officials said.

“The hole has gotten deeper,” geotechnical engineer Larry Madrid said at a press conference Friday evening. “We can’t get into the building because of the potential for sudden collapse.”


The continued instability of the ground slowed engineers and kept evacuees in the Tampa-area neighborhood from returning to their homes.

“We’re really handicapped and paralyzed, and we really can’t do a whole lot more than wait,” Madrid said.


Structural engineer Bill Bracken said he was shocked the home was still standing.

“It should have collapsed by now,” Bracken said as he shook his head.

As hours passed, rescuers and family lost hope of seeing 36-year-old Jeff Bush pulled from the ground alive.  “I know in my heart he’s dead,” his brother Jeremy told reporters Friday.

Late Thursday night, Jeremy heard something that sounded like a car crash, then heard a scream. He ran to his brother’s room, but all he could see was a mattress. He tried to save him and ended up getting stuck himself. 


When Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy Douglas Duvall arrived at the home, he yanked Jeremy Bush from the hole and the two were able to escape.

“I saw that something needed to happen and I just did it,” Duvall said in a video posted on the department’s website.

At the news conference Friday evening, Duvall said he couldn’t sleep Thursday night, thinking about the what he’d seen and about Bush’s family.

“I’ve never seen anything move so fast and do so much devastation,” Duvall said. “These are everyday working people. They’re good people and this was so unexpected.”


Howard Botts, database development director for CoreLogic, a company that measures sinkhole risk, said Florida -- especially Tampa -- is extremely susceptible.                              

“All those lakes you see in Tampa are really sinkholes,” Botts said.


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