Search for man swallowed by sinkhole in Seffner has been called off

SEFFNER, Fla. - The search for a Seffner man swallowed up Thursday night by a sinkhole inside his home was called off Saturday afternoon.

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said the mission was just too dangerous and it would be impossible to recover the body of Jeff Bush.

"It is with a heavy heart that I stand before you today.  That's because the mission has changed for us and my sympathies go out to the family, and to all of their friends and neighbors here who have gone through this terrible tragedy," Merrill said.  "We can no longer sustain a rescue effort."

To watch Saturday's 5pm news conference, click the video player.

Jeff Bush was in his bed late Thursday night when the ground opened up below the home, taking the floor and the bed with it.  His brother, Jeremy Bush, desperately tried digging in the dirt to help his brother, but when deputies arrived, they had to rescue Jeremy.

Merrill explained during a news conference Saturday, that the engineering team has determined that the site is entirely unstable.

Sunday morning crews will begin the demolition process to secure the site.

Recent estimates are that the hole is now 50 to 60 feet deep.  

Tests conducted early Saturday morning showed the ground surrounding the sinkhole were highly unstable and deemed a neighboring home was in danger.

The family was given 20 to 30 minutes to go inside and gather up essential belongings.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue escorted the family into the home.


A home to the other side of the sinkhole has also been evacuated.



The Red Cross is providing the families forced out of their homes with clothing, food and shelter.

The Hillsborough County Fire Department says they have set up a website if anyone wants to donate to the families, it's:  www.firefighter-relief.com.

To contact the family please use the email address  WickerFamilyHCFR@gmail.com.

In the meantime, an impromptu memorial of flowers for the family is now in the front yard of the house across the street.

Bill Bracken with Bracken Engineering said that based on what he's seen, the sinkhole had been growing for a while.

On Friday, Larry Madrid from Madrid Engineering Group said the slopes of the hole are extremely steep and it was slowly growing.

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