|Man's Body Won't Be Recovered From Sinkhole|
|By GIO BENITEZ (@GioBenitez) , ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109) and ALYSSA NEWCOMB (@AlyssaNewcomb)||Mar 2, 2013, 8:37 AM|
Authorities have discontinued the rescue effort for a Florida man who was swallowed by a sinkhole when his home's foundation collapsed and said it is unlikely his body will ever be recovered.
"We feel we have done everything we can," Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrell said at a news conference this afternoon. "At this point, it's not possible to recover the body."
Merell said officials would bring in heavy equipment to begin demolishing the home on Sunday.
"We're dealing with a very unusual sinkhole," he said. "It's very deep. It's very wide. It's very unstable."
Jeff Bush was in his bedroom when a sinkhole opened up and trapped him underneath his home at 11 p.m. Thursday.
Two homes next door to Bush's residence were evacuated today after authorities said they had been compromised by the growing sinkhole.
With the assistance of rescuers, the homeowners will be allowed to enter their home for only 30 minutes to gather valuables, authorities said.
Rescuers returned to the site in Seffner, Fla., early this morning to conduct further testing, but decided it was too dangerous for the family initially affected by the sinkhole to enter their home, which was declared condemned.
While the sinkhole was initially estimated to be 15 feet deep on Thursday night, the chasm has continued to grow. Officials now estimate it measures 30 feet across and is up to 100 feet deep.
The Hillsborough County Fire Rescue has set up a relief fund for all families affected by the growing sink hole.
Rescue operations were halted Friday night after it became too dangerous to approach the home.
Bill Bracken, an engineer with Hillsborough County Urban Search and Rescue team said the house "should have collapsed by now, so it's amazing that it hasn't."
Using ground penetrating radar, rescuers have found a large amount of water beneath the house, making conditions even more dangerous for them to continue the search for Bush.
Hillsborough County lies in what is known as Florida's "Sinkhole Alley." More than 500 sinkholes have been reported in the area since 1954, according to the state's environmental agency.
Meanwhile, Bush's brother, Jeremy Bush, is still reeling from Thursday night.
Jeremy Bush had to be rescued by a first responder after jumping into the hole in an attempt to rescue his brother when the home's concrete floor collapsed, but said he couldn't find him.
"I just started digging and started digging and started digging, and the cops showed up and pulled me out of the hole and told me the floor's still falling in," he said.
"These are everyday working people, they're good people," said Deputy Douglas Duvall of the Hillsborough County sheriff's office. "And this was so unexpected, and they're still, you know, probably facing the reality that this is happening."