Florida Sinkhole Victim's Brother Thinks Rescuers 'Could've Tried Harder'

Authorities have stopped rescue efforts for Jeff Bush's body.

ByABC News
March 4, 2013, 12:26 PM

March 4, 2013 — -- The brother of the Florida man pulled to his presumed death into a sinkhole while he slept said today that he believes rescuers could have "tried harder" to save his brother.

"I tried my hardest to get you out, brother," a tearful Jeremy Bush said at a news conference today. "I think I'm the only one that really tried to get you out. They said the ground was too unstable to do anything, but they got all this heavy equipment on there, pulling stuff out and everyone's cheering for everything that's coming out of the house. I've had enough of the cheering."

Click here for photos of the sinkhole and rescue efforts.

Wrecking crews have been working non-stop to turn the Florida home that sits over the sinkhole to rubble, as the family grieved for victim Jeff Bush, 37, whose body is unlikely to ever be recovered from the gaping hole that suddenly opened on Thursday night.

A second sinkhole about three miles away from Bush's home was reported this afternoon in the backyard of a house, according to ABC News' Tampa affiliate WFTS. Aside from a piece of fence, there was no serious structural damage and no one was hurt.

Jeremy Bush had to be rescued by a first responder after he jumped into the hole in an attempt to rescue his brother when the home's concrete floor collapsed, but said he couldn't find him.

"Detectives have consulted with the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office and have concluded that based on all data of the incident collected thus far including depth of the sinkhole as well as composition of the soil and water; there is no environmental conditions inside the sinkhole that could sustain human life and along with the opinion of Medical Examiner's Office, Jeffery Bush is presumed deceased," the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said in a statement today.

MORE: How Sinkholes Can Develop

Rescuers "halted all recovery efforts" on Saturday when the site became too unstable. The sinkhole, which authorities estimated now measures 30 feet across and up to 100 feet deep, will become the final resting place for Jeff Bush.

"I feel that they could've tried harder to try to get my brother out of there," Bush said, choking up. "That was my brother. My mom and dad are going through so much right now."

He said his parents are "going through hell" and that his mother wakes up every hour crying over her lost son.

"Let's try and get my brother out," Bush said. "That's what I want."

The brother did express his gratitude to the first responders. "I want to thank everybody. God bless everybody for what they have done and what you all are doing for us. I thank everybody—the reporters, the firefighters, everybody that's been here, doing what they're doing."

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue did not immediately respond to request for comment today. When asked about Bush's comments, Hillsborough County spokesman Willie Puz would only say, "We're doing all we can to ensure the safety and security of everybody in this response effort."

Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrell said on Sunday that the demolition process would be slow and methodical, with crews attempting to bring as much of the structure forward to the street as possible so the grieving family could retrieve their valuables. Stability has been a constant worry.

RELATED: Florida Man Swallowed by Sinkhole: Conditions Too Unstable to Approach

"We feel we have done everything we can," Merrell said. "At this point, it's not possible to recover the body."

Two homes next door to Bush's residence were evacuated Saturday after authorities feared the structures had been compromised by the growing sinkhole.