Most of Fla. house over sinkhole demolished

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm •  Published: March 3, 2013
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Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said the remaining walls of the home would be knocked down Monday and then crews would turn to clearing the debris as much as possible to allow officials and engineers to see the sinkhole in the open. Officials also will determine what will happen to the two homes on either side of the now-demolished house; experts say the sinkhole has "compromised" those homes, but it's unclear whether steps can be taken to save them.

Several generations of family members lived in the home at the time of the ground collapse, including Jeff Bush, the man now presumed dead.

Jeremy Bush tried to save his brother by jumping into the sinking dirt hole. He had to be pulled out of the still-shifting hole by a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy, who was visibly shaken when talking about the incident more than a day later.

"I've never seen anything move so fast and do so much destruction," Deputy Douglas Duvall said.

The search for Jeff Bush, 37, was called off Saturday. He was in his bedroom Thursday night in Seffner — a suburb of 8,000 people 15 miles east of downtown Tampa — when the ground opened and took him and everything else in his room. Five others in the house at the time escape unharmed as the earth crumbled.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is conducting the investigation. Detective Larry McKinnon said the sheriff's office and the county medical examiner cannot declare Bush dead if his body is still missing. Under Florida law, Bush's family must petition a court to declare him deceased.

"Based on the circumstances, he's presumed dead; however the official death certificate can only be issued by a judge and the family has to petition the court," McKinnon said.

The area around Seffner is known for sinkholes due to the geography of the terrain, but they are rarely deadly. No one — from longtime public safety officials to geologists — could remember an incident where a person was sucked into the earth without warning.

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