It was news that the family of Jeff Bush did not want to hear.
Late Saturday afternoon Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said the land around the Seffner sinkhole was too unstable and the search for Bush's body was over.
"With all the equipment that we brought in and specialized help we just have not been able to locate Mr. Bush," he explained. "For that reason the rescue effort is being discontinued. At this point it's really not possible to recover the body."
It was news Bush family members say they half-expected.
"I knew whenever the fire department or nobody would go inside the house that this was his last resting place," said Jeremy Bush, Jeff's brother.
Thursday night Jeff Bush was sucked into the ground when a massive sinkhole opened up underneath floor of his home on Faithway Dr. Merrill and his staff was clearly disappointed they could not recover his remains.
"We've done everything we believe that we can," Merrill added. "We wish we could have done more but given the circumstances I couldn't put more people at risk."
Sinkholes form when water seeps below the clay underground and into the limestone. That process leads to the erosion of soil. Engineers say typically there are warning signs in a home like cracks in the wall or distortion in the structure.
The large crevice that formed below the Bush residence was different.
"The problem with this one is was it was entirely in the building at least initially so," said engineer Ross McGillivray with Ardaman and Associates. "It was hidden until it became catastrophic."
Early Sunday morning crews will demolish the home – very carefully.
"It needs to be done from outside the perimeter with huge equipment that will be able to reach in and bring out whatever we can of the house," Merrill said.
Two houses on either side of Bush's residence were also evacuated on Saturday. Officials say one of them has been compromised by the sinkhole. More tests are scheduled to determine if those structures will also need to be torn down.
Merrill: "As they begin to work with that home they'll make decisions about the other two."
Family and friends of the victim gathered shortly after the news conference for an impromptu memorial service. It was heartbreaking to say the least.
"He'd give you the shirt off his back," Jeremy Bush said of his brother, fighting back tears. "He was a great guy."
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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