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Rescue Crews Try to Reach Man Swallowed by Massive Sinkhole





The brother of a man who is presumed dead after he was swallowed by a 100-foot-wide sinkhole beneath his bedroom has sobbed as he described his desperate bid to save him.

Jeff Bush, 36, screamed for his brother as he was sucked into the 50-foot-deep hole and became trapped in the rubble at his family's house in Brandon, near Tampa, Florida on Thursday night.

The brother ran to Bush's room and frantically tried to pull him from the rubble, but he was unable to reach the man, and authorities have said they believe he is now dead.

'We heard a loud crash,' Bush's brother told My Fox Tampa Bay as he broke down in tears. 'I ran in there and heard somebody screaming, my brother screaming, and I ran in there.

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Grief:The brother of a 36-year-old man who was sucked into a sinkhole breaks down outside the home

Grief:The brother of a 36-year-old man who was sucked into a sinkhole breaks down outside the home

 

 
Shock: The man recounted how he had tried to save his brother but could only see the bed in the hole

Shock: The man recounted how he had tried to save his brother but could only see the bed in the hole

 

'And all I see is this big hole. All I see is the top of his bed. I didn't see anything else, so I jumped in the hole and tried getting him out.

'And I couldn't get him. I could hear him screaming for me, hollering for me. I couldn't do nothing.'

 

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Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials arrived at the home at 11 p.m. on Thursday and the first officer on the scene rescued the brother from the edge of the chasm.

Lt. Donald Morris from Hillbosourgh County Sheriff's Department described the scene officers found.

'The mattress, the bed, everything was actually going down in the hole where the first person had gone and now the second person is in the hole trying to save the first,' he said.

 
 
Horror: A man is presumed dead after a sinkhole opened up beneath his house in Brandon, Florida, pictured

Horror: A man is presumed dead after a sinkhole opened up beneath his house in Brandon, Florida, pictured

 

 
Danger: An engineer walks past the home where the sinkhole opened up on Thursday night

Danger: An engineer walks past the home where the sinkhole opened up on Thursday night

 

 
Hidden: The sinkhole is only visible from inside the house but could be 100 foot wide under the surface

Hidden: The sinkhole is only visible from inside the house but could be 100 foot wide under the surface

 

'And they're not being successful so [the rescuer is] just reacting and doing what they have to do to get that person out. It was deep enough that the person he pulled out to safety was not ale to fully extend their arms and even reach the top.'

Bush was nowhere in sight and rescuers determined the home had become too unstable to continue search efforts.

Listening devices and cameras were placed in the hole but there had been no contact with the missing man by early Friday.

'We put engineering equipment into the sinkhole and didn't see anything compatible with life,' Fire rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico said.

She said it was 'safe to presume' that the man was dead although there has been no confirmation.

 
Rescue attempt: His brother heard his screams for help and rushed to his room where he saw the huge hole

Rescue attempt: His brother heard his screams for help and rushed to his room where he saw the huge hole

 

 
Emotional: He broke down as he recounted how he could do nothing to save the man from the hole

Emotional: He broke down as he recounted how he could do nothing to save the man from the hole

She said that the sinkhole was 30 feet across at the surface, but that engineers have estimated that below the surface it could be as wide as 100 feet and 50 feet deep.

'The entire house is on the sinkhole,' Damico said.

The sinkhole is not visible above ground except from inside the house, and officials believe its center is beneath the bedroom. From the outside, there are no cracks visible.

Engineering officials are expected to arrive on the scene later today to determine the exact diameter and depth of the sinkhole, which is still developing. Officials said it is not man-made.

The brother was taken to a Red Cross after he attempted to save Bush.

Five adults and a two-year-old child were in the house at the time of the collapse, but no one else was injured.

 
Condemned: The home and other properties nearby have been evacuated in fear the hole could grow

Condemned: The home and other properties nearby have been evacuated in fear the hole could grow

 
Fears: Engineers deemed it unsafe to carry on with the rescue but they continue to analyze the ground

Fears: Engineers deemed it unsafe to carry on with the rescue but they continue to analyze the ground

Search: Officials arrived on the scene at 11.30 p.m. but have so far found no sign that the man is alive

Search: Officials arrived on the scene at 11.30 p.m. but have so far found no sign that the man is alive

 

Janell Wheeler told the Tampa Bay Times she was inside the house when the sinkhole opened.

'It sounded like a car hit my house,' she said, adding that there were screams as one of her nephews rushed to rescue his brother from the debris.

The rest of the family went to a hotel but she stayed behind with her dog and slept in her car.

'I just want my nephew,' she said through tears.

Officials evacuated neighbors living on either side of the home, which they say could be swallowed into the ground at any moment.

'It's the only one we've seen that opened up in this manner there is no evidence of the structure cracking or anything like that on the outside of the house,' Dexter Barge with Hillsborough County's Code Enforcement told WFLA.


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