Wednesday, March 6, 2013

sinkhole tragedy

In the past I have used the title of "Good News, Bad News" when I write about sinkholes.   The "Bad News" is that a sinkhole opened somewhere in someone's front yard.   The "Good News" is that it wasn't my front yard.   But in this sinkhole there is no "Good News" because it involved a fatality.   I am shocked.   I didn't think that people died in sinkholes.   We have sinkholes open up in people's yards from time-to-time here in Central Florida but no one gets hurt.   This is the first one that I am aware that had a fatality.   Where was this sinkhole?   It was at 240 Faithway Drive, Seffner, Florida which is about 15 miles east of Tampa, Florida.   It is also 73 miles southwest of Orlando, Florida.   Seffner is located where the purple dot is in the lower left corner of the picture below.
It was 11:00 pm on Friday, March 1 and Jeffrey Bush was in bed when a huge hole opened up under his bed.   
A hole?   How can a hole open up under the bed?   This is the stuff that nightmares are made of.    But with a loud crash the cement floor, the dresser, the bed, and Jeffrey sunk down into the hole.  
Jeffrey’s screams for help were heard by his brother, Jeremy Bush.  
Jeremy ran to Jeffrey’s bedroom and what he saw was a large hole with Jeffrey’s bed in it.   Jeffrey was screaming for Jeremy to help him.   Jeffrey was still alive.   Jeremy jumped into the hole and tried to help his brother but couldn’t.    Now Jeremy was also stuck in the hole and couldn’t get out.   Jeremy was a real-life hero to jump into a sink-hole as the dirt was going down the hole making the hole even deeper.   I take my hat off to Jeremy for his bravery and devotion to his brother.
A police officer, Douglas Duval arrived at the house in response to a 911 call by a family member.    When the police officer entered the bedroom and looked into the hole he could see Jeremy Bush trying to get out of the hole.   He also saw a bed and a dresser in the hole.   Everything in the hole was sinking.  Officer Duval reached into the hole and helped Jeremy Bush get out of the hole.  
The hole sunk to a depth of 60 feet and was about 30 feet in diameter.   But what about Jeffrey Bush?   He could no longer be seen.   Emergency responders came but it was deemed unsafe to have rescue personnel go down a 60 foot deep hole because of the danger of the sides of the hole collapsing.   A camera and a sensitive microphone were lowered into the hole but no sign of life was detected.    Anyone going near the house had to wear a safety harness with a rope tether.
The rope was held by a firefighter.
On Saturday, the ground was studied with ground penetrating radar and it still seemed that the hole was just too unstable to send someone down into the hole.   It was felt that Jeffrey was no longer alive and it would be another tragedy to have the hole collapse on people who would be trying to recover Jeffries body.   It had to have been a tough call to make.   The house was razed to the ground and the debris taken away.
It had to be tough on the family to see their house end up piece-by-piece in a dumpster.   The owner had sinkhole insurance which was fortunate but when you live in a house for a long time there are so many memories.   Over the course of a few days the house was cleared as it had never existed, the hole filled with gravel from dump trucks and now the site looks like an empty lot.  
His brother leaves a memorial of flowers to his brother at the site.
At the age of 36 Jeffrey Bush died too soon and too young.    His family will remember him always, especially at Christmas time.
Live each day to the fullest because you just never know when tragedy will strike.    Lew

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