Sunday | April 19, 2015
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Lost in the Abyss

SEFFNER, Fla. — In a matter of seconds, the earth opened under Jeff Bush’s bedroom and swallowed him up like something out of a horror movie. About the only thing left was the TV cable running down into the hole.

Bush, 37, was presumed dead Friday, the victim of a sinkhole — a hazard so common in Florida that state law requires home insurers to provide coverage against the danger.

The sinkhole, estimated at 20 feet across and 20 feet deep, caused the home’s concrete floor to cave in around 11 p.m. Thursday just as a family of six was turning in for the night in the Tampa-area house. It gave way with a loud crash that sounded like a car hitting the house and brought Bush’s brother running.

Jeremy Bush said he jumped into the hole but couldn’t see his brother and had to be rescued by a sheriff’s deputy who reached out and pulled him to safety as the ground crumbled around him.

Officials lowered equipment into the sinkhole and saw no signs of life, said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico.

Engineers worked to determine if the ground was stable enough to support heavy machinery to help them recover the body. Workers with rope tied around them took soil samples from the yard.

Six people were at the home at the time, including Jeremy Bush’s wife and his 2-year-old daughter. The brothers worked maintenance jobs, including picking up trash along highways.