Search for Sinkhole Victim Over, House Demolition Begins

final farewell

Sinkhole update 5 pm 3/4/2013

Family Says Final Farewell to Seffner Sinkhole Victim, Body Still in Hole

In a brief, impromptu, but highly emotional ceremony, Jeremy Bush, joined by and several members of his family said a tearful goodbye to his brother’s body, which remains buried in a massive sinkhole that formed underneath of one of the bedrooms at 240 Faithway Drive in Seffner.

The sad reality and subsequent impromptu funeral came only moments after demolition crews razed the home and cleared the way to fill the sinkhole that claimed the life of Jeff Bush,37, late Thursday night, as the family was getting ready for bed.

The flowers, a stuffed animal and some smaller items that served as a small memorial at the front of the home were quickly placed inside the bucket of the excavator by the family present, while Jeremy got down on his knees to say a silent prayer and watched as the bucket was lowered into the sinkhole; Jeff’s final resting place.

Over taken by emotion and grief, Jeremy was unable to stay and watch as the excavator, bucket by bucket, filled the sinkhole.

Following the solemn moment, Hillsborough County Spokesman Willie Puz explained that the demolition phase of the operation is now complete and that the crew is now filling in the hole.

“We have worked gracefully and used every precaution while tried to remove from the house as much personal items as possible,” Puz said.

Engineers are now focusing on stabilizing the hole, which is still about 20 feet wide and is considered unstable, but Puz warned that the sinkhole is actually wider than the foundation.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ospreyobserver/sets/72157632916066784/

Sinkhole Update 12:04 pm
Demolition of the Home at 240 Faithway Drive in Seffner, under which a massive sinkhole opened up late Thursday evening commenced this morning for the second day as utility crews taring the house down practically inch by inch

According to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Ronnie Rivera with the unsuccessful search for 37-year-old Jeff Bush now over, further work on the property is no longer in the hands of Fire Rescue.

“The work will now continue with the help of local utility crews,” Rivera said.

For safety reasons, Hillsborough County Sheriff Office presence in the neighborhood will remain, Rivera said.

Shortly after demolition crews began this morning, Jeremy Bush approached reporters as he said, “would like to clarify a couple of things.”

While wiping tears from his eyes,Bush thanked reporters, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue as well as all other agencies who have been there to support the family and the efforts to get his brother’s body recovered from the sinkhole.

” I want to thank everyone for their help and support,” Bush said choking back tears, but added, “I feel that they could have done more to get my brother out of there.

Bush further expressed his disappointment over the thought that as he understands there are some organizations that specialize in these kind of rescue efforts but that they are costly.

“I just don’t have money for that,” he said. “I want some kind of memories of him. I just want his hats or some of his clothes.”

Discouraged over the results of the effort and the realization that his brother’s body may never be recovered,and that it may remain buried at the site of the tragedy, Bush said he hopes that perhaps a tombstone or a bench would remain at the site and serve as a memorial.

It is said that the demolition of the home is to be completed by the end of the day which will give engineers a better look at the sinkhole.

Sinkhole update 3/3/13 2 p.m.

Demolition of the Home at 240 Faithway Drive in Seffner, under which a massive sinkhole opened up late Thursday evening has been completed for today.

According to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Ronnie Rivera with the unsuccessful search for 37-year-old Jeff Bush now over, further work on the property is no longer in the hands of Fire Rescue.

“The work will now continue with the help of local utility crews as demolition and further work is to continue tomorrow,” Rivera said.

For safety reasons, Hillsborough County Sheriff Office presence in the neighborhood will remain, Rivera said.

LATEST UPDATE:
What was early on anticipated is now confirmed at the site of the sinkhole that opened up underneath the bedroom floor at 240 Faithway Drive in Seffner, swallowing Jeff Bush, 37, along with several pieces of furniture.

Late Saturday afternoon Hillsborough County officials announced that the search and rescue efforts for Bush’s body was over.

“With all the equipment that we had, we just could not locate Mr. Bush,” said Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill. “At this point it is just not possible to recover the body.”

The news was something of expected as Bush’s brother Jeremy, told reporters that when he realized that nobody would or could go into the house it was his brothers last resting place.

County officials confirmed that the adjacent homes either side of the sinkhole are also compromised and gave homeowners enough time to grab what they could.

Demolition of the home that sits on top of the sinkhole is now underway.

Man Likely Dead as Sinkhole Grows Under Seffner House

The sinkhole now measuring more than 30 feet across and below the surface approximately 100 feet wide that swallowed a Seffner man in his bedroom, late Thursday night is slowly growing as authorities are anticipating the possibility of the entire house succumb to the unstable ground. In addition, houses on either side of the Seffner home have now been deemed unsafe and families moved from the homes while further investigation continues.

During a press conference, almost 20 hours after the sinkhole formed at 240 Faithway Drive that claimed one of the bedrooms and most likely the life of 37-year-old Jeff Bush, who was said to be in the room at the time, officials confirmed that what began as a rescue is now a recovery operation.

“This is not your typical sinkhole,” said Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill. “This is a chasm and a very complex, very serious situation. For that reason, we’re being very deliberate and want to get this job done as quickly, but as safely as possible.”

While holding back tears as he was describing the scene, Jeff’s brother, Jeremy said that after hearing a loud crash he ran into his brother’s room only to find the mattress and dresser inside the hole and hearing his brother’s voice crying for help.

“All I saw was this big hole,” Jeremy said. “I didn’t see anything else, so I jumped in the hole and tried digging him out. And I couldn’t get him.”

The 911 call brought Hillsborough County deputy Douglas Duvall, to the scene just in time to pull Jeremy out of the ever-growing unstable whole as he struggled to look for his brother.

“When I entered the house the only thing I saw was a huge hole in the ground,” Duvall said. “I grabbed Mr. Bush and puled him. I have never seen anything like this and how quick the destruction was.”

Hillsborough County Fire Chief Ron Rogers described the situation as very complex and said, “It’s continuing to evolve and the ground is continuing to collapse.”
Neighbors nearby have been evacuated out of precaution.

Engineers including Bill Bracken, who was surprised to see that the house itself had not been swallowed up as well, were taking soil samples and running various tests, but acknowledged that the entire lot is unstable.

“I cannot tell you why the house has not collapsed yet,” Bracken said, adding that official were still trying to determine the nature of what is down the hole.

Larry Madrid, president of Madrid engineering confirmed everyone’s fear when he told reporters that the sinkhole was steep and expanding and will continue to grow.

While sinkholes are common in Florida, the tragedy is a sad reminder for residents and local officials of the dangers lurking beneath the surface.

Donations to help the families affected by the sinkhole are being accepted online, at www.firefigther-relief.com, a site run by Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

Also, the following email address has been set up to allow communication with the family, WickerFamilyHCFR@gmail.com.

More details to follow as they become available.