SEFFNER, Fla. Florida rescue personnel on Saturday searched for a man who disappeared into a sinkhole that swallowed his whole bedroom while he was asleep in his suburban Tampa home.
Jeff Bush, 36, who is presumed dead, was in bed when the other five members of the household who were getting ready for bed on Thursday night heard a loud crash and Jeff screaming.
The sinkhole has compromised the house next door, officials said Saturday.
Officials planned to let family members, accompanied by firefighters, into the threatened home for about 20 minutes to gather some belongings, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Ronnie Rivera told reporters Saturday.
Bush’s body hadn’t been removed by Saturday afternoon and the ground near the home was still “very, very unsafe,” Rivera said at a televised press conference Saturday.
"At this time we did some testing and we determined that the house right next to the house that’s actually damaged is also compromised by the sinkhole,” Rivera said.
Jeff's brother, 35-year-old Jeremy Bush, jumped into the hole and furiously kept digging to find his brother.
"I really don't think they are going to be able to find him," Jeremy said on Saturday. He "will be there forever."
A small memorial of balloons and flowers for his brother had formed near the house on Saturday morning.
"I thank the Lord for not taking my daughter and the rest of my family," he said.
Jeremy himself had to be rescued from the sinkhole by the first responder to the emergency call, Douglas Duvall of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. When Duvall entered Jeff Bush's bedroom, all he saw was a widening chasm but no sign of Jeff.
"The hole took the entire bedroom," said Duvall. "You could see the bed frame, the dresser, everything was sinking," he said.
Norman Wicker, 48, the father of Jeremy's fiancÃ©e who also lived in the house, ran to get a flashlight and shovel.
"It sounded like a car ran into the back of the house," Wicker said.
Authorities have not detected any signs of life after lowering listening devices and cameras into the hole.
"There is a very large, very fluid mass underneath this house rendering the entire house and the entire lot dangerous and unsafe," Bill Bracken, the head of an engineering company assisting fire and rescue officials, told the news conference late on Friday.
"We are still trying to determine the extent and nature of what's down there so we can best determine how to approach it and how to extricate," Bracken said.
After suspending the search overnight, it resumed at daylight on Saturday, with engineering consultants trying to determine the extent of the collapse so that a perimeter boundary can be established for setting up heavy equipment for future excavation.
Several nearby homes were evacuated in case the 30-foot (9-meter) wide sinkhole got larger but officials said Friday it only appeared to be getting deeper.
Soil samples showed that the sinkhole has compromised the ground underneath a home next door, engineers said Saturday.
The residents of that house were allowed 20 minutes in their home on Saturday to gather belongings. Firefighters and residents formed an assembly line to move items out of the house into SUVs and trucks.
Rescue officials said that in addition to soil samples, they were focusing on engineering analysis, ground penetration radar and other techniques to determine the extent of the ongoing collapse. Listening devices were being used to detect any evidence of life although Bush was presumed dead.
The Bush brothers worked together as landscapers, according to Leland Wicker, 48, one of the other residents of the house.
The risk of sinkholes is common in Florida due to the state's porous geological bedrock, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. As rainwater filters down into the ground, it dissolves the rock, causing erosion that can lead to underground caverns, which cause sinkholes when they collapse.