Jeffrey Bush apparently screamed for help around 11 p.m. EST on Thursday evening but his brother, Jeremy, did not reach him in time and reportedly had to be rescued himself by a Hillsborough deputy who was responding to a 911 call.
Jeremy stated, “It swallowed his whole bedroom, his dresser, everything in his room is gone.” He went on to explain that all he could see was the top of his brother’s bed. “I jumped in the hole and tried digging him out. I thought I could hear him screaming for me and hollering for me but they couldn’t do nothing,” he shared.
Luckily Deputy Douglas Duvall arrived at the scene in time to save Jeremy. He said "the sinkhole was taking the whole bedroom" when he arrived and saw Jeremy down in the hole struggling to find his brother.
"I reached him and actually got him by his hand and pulled him out of the hole," Duvall told WTSP. "The hole was collapsing."
Rescue teams, unable to stay inside the unstable structure, lowered a microphone and video equipment into the hole but have not heard from the victim.
"We put engineering equipment into the sinkhole and didn't see anything compatible with life," Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico said.
Houses on both sides of the damaged structure have also been evacuated.
Even though the surface shows the sinkhole to be about 30 feet across, officials say that it spreads to about 100 feet across below the surface.
Janell Wheeler states that she was inside the house with four other adults, a child and two dogs when the sinkhole opened. "It sounded like a car hit my house," she said.
While Wheeler's family moved into a hotel because the house was condemned, she has been sleeping in her car with her dog. "I just want my nephew," she said through tears.
Anthony Randazzo who is an expert in sinkholes states, "Usually, you have some time. These catastrophic sinkholes give you some warning over the course of hours.” He added, “This is very unusual and very tragic."
Randazzo claims that he only knows of two people who have died because of a sinkhole in forty years of studying them. The two people Randazzo is referring to were also from Florida.