Rescuers Search For Man As Florida Sinkhole Grows

By: ABC News
By: ABC News

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rescuers early Saturday morning returned to the site where a sinkhole swallowed a Florida man in his bedroom after the home's foundation collapsed.

Jeff Bush was in his bedroom when a sinkhole opened up and trapped him underneath his home at 11 p.m. Thursday night.

While the sinkhole was initially estimated to be 15 feet deep on Thursday night, the chasm has continued to grow. Officials now estimate it measures 30 feet across and up to 100 feet deep.

Rescue operations were halted Friday night after it became too dangerous to approach the home.

Bill Bracken, an engineer with Hillsborough County Urban Search and Rescue team said that the house "should have collapsed by now, so it's amazing that it hasn't."

Using ground penetrating radar, rescuers have found a large amount of water beneath the house, making conditions even more dangerous for them to continue the search for Bush.

"I'm being told it's seriously unstable, so that's the dilemma," said Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrell. "A dilemma that is very painful to them and for everyone."

Hillsborough County lies in what is known as Florida's "Sinkhole Alley." Over 500 sinkholes have been reported in the area since 1954, according to the state's environmental agency.

The Tampa-area home was condemned, leaving Bush's family unable to go back inside to gather their belongings. As a result, the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue set up a relief fund for Bush's family in light of the tragedy.

Officials evacuated the two houses adjacent to Bush's and are considering further evacuations, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, Bush's brother, Jeremy Bush, is still reeling from Thursday night.

Jeremy Bush had to be rescued by a first responder after jumping into the hole in an attempt to rescue his brother when the home's concrete floor collapsed, but said he couldn't find him.

"I just started digging and started digging and started digging, and the cops showed up and pulled me out of the hole and told me the floor's still falling in," he said.

"These are everyday working people, they're good people," said Deputy Douglas Duvall of the Hillsborough County sheriff's office, "And this was so unexpected, and they're still, you know, probably facing the reality that this is happening."



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