Recovery effort ends for Florida man presumed dead in sinkhole

SEFFNER, Florida Sat Mar 2, 2013 6:11pm EST

1 of 6. Police tape surrounds a home where a sinkhole opened up and swallowed a man in Seffner, Florida, March 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Blanco

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SEFFNER, Florida (Reuters) - Florida rescue workers have ended their efforts to recover the body of a man who disappeared into a sinkhole that swallowed his bedroom while he slept in a suburban Tampa home, and the house will be demolished, a public safety official said on Saturday.

Jeff Bush, 36, who is presumed dead, was asleep when the other five members of the household who were getting ready for bed on Thursday night heard a loud crash and Jeff screaming.

"Our data has come back, and there is absolutely no way we can do any kind of recovery without endangering lives of workers," said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico.

She said demolition of the home would begin early on Sunday.

Authorities had not detected any signs of life using listening devices and cameras at the scene.

"There's nothing compatible with life in this situation," Damico said. "There's no way of possible survival."

Jeff Bush's brother, 35-year-old Jeremy Bush, had feared his brother was lost after jumping into the hole and furiously digging in an effort to find him.

"I thank the Lord for not taking my daughter and the rest of my family," Jeremy said on Saturday.

Jeremy himself had to be rescued from the sinkhole by the first responder to the emergency call, Douglas Duvall of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. When Duvall entered Jeff Bush's bedroom, all he saw was a widening chasm but no sign of Jeff.

"The hole took the entire bedroom," said Duvall. "You could see the bedframe, the dresser, everything was sinking," he said.

Norman Wicker, 48, the father of Jeremy's fiancée who also lived in the house, ran to get a flashlight and shovel.

"It sounded like a car ran into the back of the house," Wicker said.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien and Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Todd Eastham)

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