Florida Sinkhole Swallows Sleeping Man Now Presumed Dead

Friday, 01 Mar 2013 11:59 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A Florida man is presumed dead after a sinkhole estimated to be 100 feet wide and 15 feet deep collapsed the bedroom of his Tampa-area home Thursday night, swallowing and trapping him while he was asleep in bed.

The victim, 36-year-old Jeff Bush, is missing, police told ABC affiliate WFTS-TV.

Around 11 p.m. Thursday, Bush reportedly called out for his brother Jeremy, who was in another area of the four-bedroom house. Police and rescue crews arrived as the brother was trying to find the victim in the rubble.

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Jeremy Bush told the Tampa Bay Times that he opened the door to his brother's room after hearing his cries, and saw that the dresser and the bed had been sucked into the sinkhole. Bush said he jumped in and began to dig around until a deputy pulled him out.

"I couldn't do anything," Jeremy Bush told the Times. "Everything in the room was gone."

Crews have not been able to search the sinkhole, as the area continues to expand, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. They have placed listening devices and cameras into the hole but have had no contact with Jeff Bush.

Neighbors were evacuated, as the entire home could collapse at any time, Jessica Damico, a Hillsborough Fire and Rescue spokeswoman, told MyFoxTampaBay.com.

"The entire house is on the sinkhole," she said.

Janell Wheeler, Bush's aunt, was inside the house with four other adults, a child, and two dogs when the sinkhole opened, the Times reported.

"It sounded like a car hit my house," she said the moment the bedroom bottomed out.

The rest of the family evacuated to a local hotel.

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Sinkholes are common in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The state lies on bedrock made of limestone or other carbonate rock that can be eaten away by acidic groundwater, forming voids that collapse when the rock can no longer support the weight of what's above it, according to CNN.

Related stories:

Sinkhole Cuts Off 100 Homes in N. California City

The 'Law of the Sea' Sinkhole

Miami Police to Begin Enforcing Curfew on Kids Under 17

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