(USA TODAY) -- A Florida man is presumed dead Friday after the bedroom in which he
was sleeping suddenly collapsed into a 30-foot wide sinkhole that
swallowed up the entire room, including furniture, local officials said.
to rescue 36-year-old Jeffrey Bush were in limbo because the ground was
too unstable for heavy equipment and the hole is expected to expand.
"This is no ordinary sinkhole," Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said Friday evening. "This is a chasm."
Bush screamed for help when the house in Seffner, Fla., near Tampa, began to collapse around 11 p.m. Thursday.
brother, Jeremy, rushed into the room and tried to locate his brother
but had to be rescued himself by a Hillsborough deputy summoned by 911.
"It swallowed his whole bedroom, his dresser -- everything in his room is gone," a distraught Jeremy said.
I could see was the tops of his bed," he said. "So 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."
Deputy Douglas Duvall said "the sinkhole was taking the whole
bedroom" when he arrived and saw Jeffrey 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
"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.
said that at the surface the sinkhole is about 30 feet across, but
officials say the sinkhole spreads to about 100 feet across below the
An engineer told The Tampa Tribune that the situation was "unprecedented." He said the edges are steep and unstable, so the hole is likely to grow.
Janell Wheeler told the Tampa Bay Times 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.
It was dark. She remembered screams and one of her nephews rushing to rescue his brother, trapped in the debris.
Wheeler's house was condemned. The rest of the family went to a hotel, but she stayed behind with her dog, sleeping in her car.
"I just want my nephew," she said through tears.
Randazzo, an expert in sinkholes, said he knows of only two people --
both in Florida -- who have died because of a sinkhole in 40 years of
studying the geological phenomenon.
"Usually, you have some time,"
said Randazzo, who has lectured on sinkholes at Oxford University.
"These catastrophic sinkholes give you some warning over the course of
hours. This is very unusual and very tragic."
Contributing: Grayson Kamm, WTSP; Associated Press