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At Florida Sinkhole, Demolition Continues

Mar 4, 2013
Originally published on March 4, 2013 10:54 am

The grim work continues at a home near Tampa, Fla., where a man apparently died last week when a sinkhole opened up under his bedroom.

Demolition efforts are resuming. At some point today, according to news reports, crews should be able to remove walls, roofing and other materials from atop the room where 37-year-old Jeffrey Bush had been sleeping — exposing the sinkhole and giving authorities a better view of what's said to be a 60-foot-deep chasm.

As Korva reported over the weekend, authorities had to give up efforts to find Bush because the hole was just too dangerous to work in. They're working from a distance — using cranes and other equipment.

Tampa's WFLA-TV reports this morning on the three generations of one family that had lived in the home. The Tampa Bay Times writes about how workers, using a long boom with a bucket, tried over the weekend to carefully scoop some of the family's possessions from the home. The family:

"Watched the long boom extend and the bucket approach, tentatively at first, to scoop up an American flag that had been flying outside the home. Firefighters in the street folded it into a triangle and handed it to them.

"The machine pressed on.

"Blocks tumbled. Wood splintered. Walls fell, revealing beds, televisions, dressers and framed photos.

"The backhoe operator combed for treasured objects. The family cried and applauded when he unearthed the Bible of their late matriarch, Mary Leona Wicker, who, between its aged pages, had tucked baptism certificates.

"Afterward, the family hugged the operator and thanked him."

Tampa Bay Online adds that:

"As of Sunday afternoon — when demolition had stopped for the day and only a few walls of the home remained — a Bible, family photos, a jewelry box and a pink teddy bear for Hannah were among the items saved.

"Wanda Carter, aunt of Rachel Wicker and daughter of Leland Wicker, who has owned the home since the 1970s, cradled the large family Bible in her arms. She said her mother and father had stored baptism certificates, cards and photos between the pages of that Bible over the years.

" 'It means that God is still in control, and He knew we needed this for closure,' she said, crying."

WUSF News is also following the story.

Update at 10:50 a.m. ET. Missing Man's Brother Says More Could Have Been Done.

The Tampa Bay Times writes that at the scene Monday morning:

"Jeremy Bush, the victim's brother, approached the mass of reporters Monday morning and said he believes officials could have done more to recover Jeffrey Bush, the 37-year-old who was sucked in by a sinkhole as he slept.

" 'You see all this heavy equipment?' Jeremy Bush said. 'They could have tried harder to get my brother out.' "

But as the newspaper notes, "officials decided to tear down the house Saturday after deeming the area too unstable to conduct rescue efforts to find Jeffrey Bush."

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