TAMPA — A sinkhole in west-central Florida has reopened, about 10 years after it killed a man, when it opened under his bedroom, officials said this week.
The sinkhole at Seffner, about 15 miles east of Tampa, is opening for the third time.
After the hole claimed the life of Jeff Bush in 2013, causing him to sink dozens of feet into the ground, Hillsborough County filled in the hole and bought property and a house next to it to make sure no one lived too close. Then, in 2015, the hole reopened – then it was about 20 feet wide – and was filled in again. No one was hurt when it opened in 2015.
County officials were told Monday that the sinkhole had reopened, said John-Paul Lavandeira, director of the county’s code enforcement department. Officials ensured that nearby communities were not affected and informed nearby residents that it was safe to stay in their homes, the county said in a news release.
A sinkhole contractor visited the site on Tuesday to draw up a plan. Authorities have not yet been able to determine what caused the sinkhole to reopen, a county spokesman told CNN.
Restoration work could begin as early as Friday, spokesman Todd Pratt said. The contractor expects the well to be filled with 150 tons of gravel and water, Pratt added.
The site is closed to the public, surrounded by two layers of fence, the county said.
Bush’s brother, Jeremy Bush, told CNN affiliate WFTS that watching the sinkhole reopen is a crippling reminder of the horrific night in 2013 when he heard his brother scream for help before disappearing underground.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my brother,” he told a news station this week. “Things that happened in that house that night, and I hear my brother screaming and screaming for me to help him, I hear it all the time.”
The man called for help and then disappeared
Jeremy Bush, who was at the house when the sinkhole formed in February 2013, was trying to do everything he could to save his brother after he heard him calling for help, he told CNN that same year. By the time he got to his brother’s room, it had already been destroyed.
“Everything is lost. My brother’s bed, my brother’s dresser, my brother’s TV. My brother is gone,” he said then.
According to him, he desperately tried to save his brother by standing in the hole and digging through the rubble with a shovel. The authorities reacted and pulled Jeremy Bush out, telling him that the floor was still crumbling.
Jeremy Bush and four others, including a two-year-old child, escaped from a 1970s blue one-story house that stood over a sinkhole.
The remains of Jeff Bush have never been found.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, sinkholes are common in Florida.
The state rests on bedrock composed of limestone or other carbonate rock that can be eroded away by acidic groundwater, creating voids that collapse when the rock can no longer support the weight of what is above it.