Sinkhole opens under bedroom of Tampa-area home - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Sinkhole opens under bedroom of Tampa-area home

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It was just after 11 p.m. Thursday when Jeremy Bush said he heard the sound of a car crashing into his home.

But it wasn't a car crash at all. It was a massive sinkhole that swallowed one of the bedrooms in the Seffner house at 240 Faithway Drive. Inside that room was Jeremy's brother, Jeff.

The family was watching TV only moments earlier. Some of them had gone to bed. Jeremy said he immediately rushed into his brother's room, seeing his dresser, mattress and box spring swallowed in the hole.

But there was no sign of Jeff – only what Jeremy describes as the sound of his brother calling for help.

"We heard a loud crash. I ran in there and heard somebody screaming, my brother screaming, and I ran all in there," he said, choking back tears. "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 digging him out. And I couldn't get him. I could hear him screaming for me, hollering for me."

The family called 911, and a deputy arrived just in time to pull Jeremy from the hole as he struggled to look for his brother, officials said. That move, by deputy Douglas Duvall, may have saved his life.

"I went into the bedroom, and I saw the sinkhole in the entire bedroom," Duvall said. "I saw the family member inside the hole who was trying to get the victim out. I reached out and was able to grab his hand and pull him out of the hole."

"I couldn't get myself out," Jeremy Bush said. "The cop had to get me out."

Fire and rescue officials said the hole was about 20 feet deep. Fire Chief Ron Rogers said the hole was about 30 feet wide, but it was growing. Rescuers sent a camera and listening device into the hole early Friday morning, but it too was swallowed up.

They heard no signs of life, and at this point, officials say it is recovery mission not a rescue effort. However, there could be no confirmation of Jeff Bush's condition.

Crews haven't been able to get close because the sinkhole continues to grow, and it's too dangerous.

"Right now, the potential for a collapse is very, very high," said Jessica Damico of Hillsborough Fire and Rescue.

Crews will be using pieces of equipment to try and search the hole, but they fear the home may collapse. A staging area for media had to be moved back several hundred yards.

On the outside, there is no visible damage. The hole, for now, is contained inside the four-bedroom home. Officials said it is condemned.  

Buddy Wicker of North Carolina is the owner, and the people living inside were family. There were five adults and one child inside, officials said. Wicker was driving overnight from North Carolina to Tampa to join them. 

He told FOX 13 there was no indication something like this could happen. He said last year they had a sinkhole inspection, and nothing was found.

Neighbors nearby have been evacuated out of precaution.  Florida has more sinkholes than any other state in the nation.

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