Friday 20 April 2018

Brother's tears after sinkhole swallows man


Engineers were working carefully yesterday to investigate a slowly growing sinkhole that swallowed a Florida man in his bedroom, believing the entire house could eventually succumb to the unstable ground.

Jeff Bush, 37, was in his bedroom on Thursday night when the earth opened and took him and everything else in his room. Five other people were in the house but managed to escape unharmed.

Mr Bush's brother jumped into the hole to try to help, but he had to be rescued himself by a sheriff's deputy.

Engineers began doing more tests yesterday. Crews with equipment were at the home next door, one of two that have been evacuated.

Officials moved media crews further away from the Bush house so experts could perform tests on the home across the street. It was unclear how large the sinkhole is, or whether it leads to other caverns and chasms throughout the neighbourhood. Experts say the underground of West Central Florida looks similar to Swiss cheese, with the geography lending itself to sinkholes.

Experts spent the previous day at the property, taking soil samples and running various tests– while acknowledging that the entire lot where Mr Bush lay entombed was dangerous. No-one was allowed in the house.

"I cannot tell you why it has not collapsed yet," Bill Bracken, the owner of an engineering company called to assess the sinkhole, said of the home.

"This is not your typical sinkhole," said Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill. "This is a chasm. For that reason, we're being very deliberate."

Officials delicately addressed another sad reality: Mr Bush is probably dead and his family want his body. Mr Merrill said, however, that they do not want to jeopardise any more lives. Officials said yesterday that a fund had been set up to help families affected by the sinkhole.

Jeremy Bush – who tried to rescue his brother when the earth opened up – lay flowers and a stuffed lamb near the house and wept.

Jeremy Bush said he jumped into the hole but could not see his brother and had to be rescued himself.

"The floor was still giving in and the dirt was still going down, but I didn't care. I wanted to save my brother," he said through tears yesterday. "But I just couldn't do nothing."

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

Irish Independent

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