A 36-year-old man is feared dead after a 50-foot sinkhole
opened up beneath his bedroom in Hillsborough County,
Florida, swallowing him beneath dirt and rubble.
Fire Rescue officials said the man was sleeping in his bed in
his home in an unincorporated section of the county about
11.05pm (local time) when the ground began to collapse
Emergency responders have suspended rescue operations because
the ground is too unstable and are awaiting engineers to
assess the situation.
"He's down there but we can't hear anything and we can't see
anything," said Ronnie Rivera, a Hillsborough County Fire
Rescue spokesman. "We can't confirm anything but it's been
The victim screamed for help and his brother, Jeremy Bush
jumped in to try to save him but was unsuccessful.
Bush tried again using a shovel to dig but was pulled out by
deputies as he was being sucked into the hole, Rivera said.
"I know in my heart he's dead," Bush told television
reporters on scene.
About five other people reportedly lived inside the home,
which has been occupied by the same family since 1974. The
residents were taken to a local hotel and were given food.
Rescuers used a wire camera to try to find the victim but the
ground continued to crumble and they had to abandon the
operation. Rivera said they lost equipment in the dirt.
Surrounding homes were evacuated but the hole is confined to
the one house.
As of 2.30am (local time) the hole was estimated to be 50
feet wide and 50 feet deep, he said.
"It's just a freaky call," Rivera said. "We just can't do
Sinkholes are not uncommon, but local historians said this is
the first time they can remember a loss of human life, said
Sherry Lewis of the Orange County Regional History Center.