Florida Home Sitting Above Sinkhole Is Being Demolished

by Michael Mosher on March 7, 2013

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SEFFNER, Fla. (AP) — Demolition crews in Florida on Sunday began to take down the home of a man who is presumed dead after his bedroom collapsed into a huge sinkhole.

The search for the man, Jeff Bush, 37, was called off Saturday, with the 20-foot-wide opening of the sinkhole almost covered by the house. A heavy machine with a large bucket scoop was moved into position Sunday on what was believed to be solid ground. Rescuers said there had been no signs of life since the hole opened Thursday night.

The man’s brother, Jeremy Bush, who tried to save him, was escorted by a deputy to the front of the house early Sunday before the equipment was moved into position. He took some flowers from a makeshift memorial to a safer location, where Mr. Bush and a woman knelt in prayer.

People gathered on lawn chairs, bundled up with blankets against unusually chilly weather. Several dozen milled about within view, including officials and reporters.

The administrator of Hillsborough County, Mike Merrill, said officials had talked to the Bush family on Sunday. The crews would try their best to move the structure toward the street, so the family could retrieve some belongings, Mr. Merrill said.

“We don’t know, in fact, whether it will collapse or whether it will hold up,” he said.

He said the crews’ goal for Sunday was to knock down the house, and on Monday they would clear the debris as much as possible to allow officials and engineers to see the sinkhole in the open.

Mr. Bush 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 the room. Five others in the house escaped unharmed as the earth crumbled.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation.

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