Florida Sinkhole: Hole Swallows House And Man, What Caused Incident? [PHOTOS & VIDEO]

By iRealty Times Reporter | March 1, 2013 12:30 PM EST

A Florida sinkhole opened up early Friday, Mar. 1, swallowing a Florida man. The Florida sinkhole opened up right underneath his bedroom in suburban Tampa, Florida. The man, whose brother was in the house, heard him call out for help as he was swallowed into the earth.

After dialing 911, the man's brother tried to dig out the Florida sinkhole with a shovel to recover the man with no success. When police arrived on the scene, they stopped his attempts at saving his brother to save his life as the sinkhole was still collapsing.

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Jeremy Bush, the man's brother, escaped the Tampa, Florida home, along with three other people and a 2-year-old child. "I heard a loud crash, like a car coming through the house," Jeremy Bush, told CNN affiliate WFTS. "I heard my brother screaming and I ran back there and tried going inside his room, but my old lady turned the light on and all I seen was this big hole, a real big hole, and all I saw was his mattress."

Janell Wheeler was in the home along with three other people, the child and two dogs when the tragic incident occurred. "It sounded like a car hit my house," she told the LA Times.

A representative from the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue described the grisly scene. "When [Jeremy Bush] got there, there was no bedroom left," said spokeswoman Jessica Damico. "There was no furniture. All he saw was a piece of the mattress sticking up."

The Florida sinkhole victim is not presumed to be dead just yet, but Damico claims that the department "...put engineering equipment into the sinkhole and didn't see anything compatible with life." There has also been no contact with the man since the incident occurred.

Florida sinkholes happen more frequently than in other states do to its limestone foundation. (Image: Reuters)
Florida sinkholes happen more frequently than in other states do to its limestone foundation. (Image: Reuters)

How bad is the Florida sinkhole? The fire department of the county estimated that the sinkhole is about 30 feet across but is up may spread up to 100 feet across below the surface. What does this mean? According to Damico: "The entire house is on the sinkhole."

"The hole has actually taken up most of the inside of the house," said Bill Bracken, president of Bracken Engineering. "It started in the bedroom and has been expanding outward and it's taking the house with it as it opens up."

How common are Florida sinkholes? More common than you may think. Florida State actually lies on a bedrock made of limestone or other carbonate rock. This foundation can be very easily eaten away by acidic groundwater, forming voids that collapse when the rock can't support weight - causing Florida sinkholes.

When engineers arrived at the scene, they started working to get measurements of the Florida sinkhole dimensions. Police evacuated the other residents from the structure, as well as the two surrounding homes. Officials say the home could go at any moment.

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