Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Florida sinkhole: work continues on dangerous ground which has claimed one life

Jeff Bush is presumed dead after being swallowed by opening

Engineers will today carry on trying to determine the danger from the Florida sinkhole which swallowed a man in his bedroom.

Jeff Bush, 37, was at his home in Hillsborough County when the hole opened up claiming him, a wardrobe, a TV, and most of the bed.

Mr Bush's brother, Jeremy, jumped into the hole- estimated at 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep- but couldn't see him and had to be rescued himself by a sheriff's deputy who pulled him to safety as the ground crumbled around him.

He said: "The floor was still giving in and the dirt was still going down, but I didn't care. I wanted to save my brother.

"But I just couldn't do nothing.

"I could swear I heard him hollering my name to help him."

His brother is presumed dead.

Engineers have already determined that the soil in the slowly growing sinkhole around the home is very soft and believe the entire house could eventually be devoured.

At a news conference on Friday, county administrator Mike Merrill said the home was "seriously unstable, and that no one can go in for fear of another collapse.

Sinkholes are so common in Florida that state law requires home insurers to provide coverage against them.

They mostly occur because of erosion or underground water which dissolves subterranean rock, creating holes.

Florida is highly prone to them because there are caverns below ground of limestone, a porous and soluble rock. A sinkhole near Orlando grew to 400 feet (122 meters) across in 1981 and devoured five sports cars, most of two businesses, a three-bedroom house and the deep end of an Olympic-size swimming pool.

More than 500 sinkholes have been reported in Hillsborough County alone since records began in 1954, according to the state's environmental agency.

Jeremy Bush said someone came out to the home a couple of months ago to check for sinkholes and other things, apparently for insurance purposes.

"He said there was nothing wrong with the house. Nothing. And a couple of months later, my brother dies. In a sinkhole," Bush said.

Six people were at the home at the time of the collapse, including Jeremy Bush's wife and his 2-year-old daughter. The brothers worked maintenance jobs, including picking up trash along highways.